DOT Inspector Certification and Training Information

Oct 10, 2019

The Department of Transportation (DOT) provides certification for inspectors in several areas. Two popular options are for transportation construction inspectors or vehicle emissions, and safety inspectors.

Essential Information

Several types of inspectors are certified through state Departments of Transportation (DOT). Requirements vary by state.

Public works inspectors visit construction sites of roads and sewer systems to ensure that standards are being met. State departments of transportation, university civil engineering departments and third-party centers offer relevant training. Some classes require students to have earned certification, such as nuclear gauge certification, or have gained a certain amount of experience prior to attending class. Accelerated certificates take as little as less than a week to complete, while longer certificate programs take up to five months to complete. Certificate programs that meet certification requirements can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to complete.

Emissions inspectors evaluate motor vehicles to make sure the pollution control systems are functioning properly. These students often can be certified after a week of classes. Continuing education departments of some universities offer courses and administer certification exams. Some classes require students to hold a valid driver's license prior to attending class. Accelerated certificates take less than one week to complete.

Public Works Inspector Training

Public works inspectors prevent future infrastructure failures by ensuring that contractors use the proper techniques when working on earthwork and foundation projects, like highways and bridges. They make sure that contractors perform their contractually obligated duties and do not substitute in cheaper materials. They may also be able to specialize in certain types of work, such as dredging operations or reinforced concrete work.

Future public works inspectors study everything from contracts to asphalt paving. Topics of study include:

  • Contract administration
  • Drainage pipes
  • Erosion control
  • Reinforced concrete pipes
  • Traffic lights

Emissions Inspector Course

Emissions inspectors enforce state laws prohibiting cars from giving off excessive air pollution. Future emissions inspectors study everything from mechanical controls to state laws. Coursework includes:

  • Emission controls
  • Exhaust standards
  • Local regulations

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Records from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records show that there were 29,990 transportation inspectors employed as of May 2018. The three largest employers of these inspectors were the federal and local levels of government, as well as rail transportation. Transportation inspectors earned a median annual wage of $73,780 as of May 2018.

According to the BLS, there were 104,090 construction and building inspectors employed across various fields as of May 2018. The BLS also states that the field of construction and building inspectors was projected to grow 7% from 2018-2028 ( The median salary in May 2018 was $59,700. Around 79% of all of these inspectors were employed by the local government in May 2018; other major employers were in the architectural and engineering services field, as well as the state government.

Popular Careers

Additional job titles may include:

  • Asphalt engineering technician
  • Certified DOT inspector
  • Construction engineering inspector
  • Contracts inspector
  • Covert quality assessment officer
  • Emissions technician

In addition to the DOT, certification classes in emissions and transportation construction inspection and safety are offered through various universities and community colleges. Students will gain an understanding of state regulations and specific inspection techniques.

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