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How to Become an Aerospace Inspector: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn about how to become an aerospace inspector. Read about the duties of such inspectors, the education requirements, and the pros and cons of a career as an aerospace inspector. View article »

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  • 0:05 Become an Aerospace Inspector
  • 0:46 Career Requirements
  • 1:43 Step 1: Earn a Diploma…
  • 2:35 Step 2: Consider an…
  • 3:00 Step 3: Get a Job As…
  • 3:24 Step 4: Obtain Certification

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Video Transcript

Become an Aerospace Inspector

Aerospace inspectors examine and evaluate the work and safety of aerospace bodies, such as airplanes, satellites, missiles and even spacecraft. Like other types of inspectors, aerospace inspectors are responsible for understanding through blueprints and models the specifications of the machinery that has been examined and inspecting such equipment for quality of assembly and function.

These inspectors also write reports on their findings and make recommendations for potential changes. Many aerospace inspectors work on airplanes and may be employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma (minimum), associate's degree or postsecondary training (preferred)
Degree Name Aerospace or aviation technology
Certification Certifications are available in various nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, the SpaceTEC certification offers 3 concentration options: composites, aerospace manufacturing and aerospace vehicle processing
Experience Several years of experience; apprenticeships are available to gain work experience
Key Skills Good communications skills, proficient in math and blueprint reading, knowledge of the aerospace process
Salary $66,180 per year (Median salary from May 2015 for aerospace engineering and operations technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Step 1: Earn a Diploma and Degree

The minimum requirement for aerospace inspection jobs is typically a high school diploma. For students interested in aerospace technology, excelling in math and science courses in high school may help prepare them for further specialized training.

While there are no official educational requirements for working as an aerospace inspector, employers may desire individuals with postsecondary training or an associate's degree. Aerospace and aviation technology programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET, Inc.) are offered at many community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and even through universities. It may mean receiving an applied technology degree with a concentration in aerospace or aviation technology. The program will likely consist of general education requirements, in addition to courses in safety, assembly, computer technology and print reading.

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Step 2: Consider an Apprenticeship

Aerospace apprenticeships predominately consist of on-the-job training but may include classroom instruction as well. Meant to provide practical experience and better job opportunities, apprenticeships allow students to work with real aerospace technology employers for several years while supplementing their knowledge. Apprenticeships may provide an official certificate and industry-wide recognition upon completion.

Step 3: Get a Job as an Inspector

Employers hiring aerospace inspectors may be looking for candidates with several years of experience. Experience can come from apprenticeships or working as assistants to aerospace engineers and technicians. In order to pursue this type of career, aerospace inspectors should be competent at math and blueprint reading and have good communication skills and knowledge of aerospace processes.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

Becoming certified in certain aerospace inspection specialties may provide industry recognition and lead to advancement and increased job opportunities. Certifications are available in various nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, which may be required by employers (www.ndt-ed.org).

Aerospace inspectors might also seek SpaceTEC certification. SpaceTEC is the National Science Foundation's National Resource Center; it offers certifications for individuals seeking employment in the aerospace industry. An individual can prepare to take a concentration certification exam in one of three areas: aerospace composites, aerospace manufacturing and aerospace vehicle processing. These certifications are valid for three years and may be beneficial when applying for positions in the aerospace industry.

A career as an aerospace inspector will likely require postsecondary training or a degree in the field of aerospace or aviation technology in order to work in a position that necessitates the inspection of the quality and function of equipment, writing of reports and providing recommendations for change. These professionals will also need work related experience and industry certifications in order to obtain an advance in this career.

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