How to Become an Aerospace Quality Inspector

Research the requirements to become an aerospace quality inspector. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in aerospace quality inspection. View article »

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Aerospace Quality Inspector

Aerospace quality inspectors, also known as quality control inspectors, ensure the parts and components of aircraft and other aerospace equipment conform to design specifications and meet industry standards. These professionals use measuring devices and testing equipment to evaluate parts, instruments and manufacturing processes. They usually work under limited supervision and need to be comfortable working independently or on a team.

Quality control inspectors, including those who work in the aerospace industry, work primarily full-time during regular business hours; some weekend or evening shifts may be required. The job requires inspectors to wear protective gear such as eyewear, gloves, and ear plugs during inspections. Inspectors spend time on their feet, navigating through work areas, as well as in an office to write reports; some light travel to different locations may be required.

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma or equivalent
Licensure and/or Certification Voluntary professional certification is available
Experience 1-3 years of experience may be preferred by some employers
Key Skills Physical strength, dexterity and stamina; familiarity with field-specific label making, industrial control and spreadsheet software; ability to use industry-related tools, including gauges, measuring equipment, acceleration instruments and leak testers
Additional Requirements Ability to pass a drug test
Salary (2015) $36,000 yearly (median for all inspectors, testers, samplers, sorters and weighers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer job postings (February 2013), O*Net OnLine.

Be an Aerospace Quality Inspector

What steps do I need to take to be an aerospace quality inspector?

Step 1: Acquire an Entry-Level Position

After earning a high school diploma or its equivalent, individuals who want to start a career in aerospace quality inspection can search for entry-level positions with employers that do not require related work experience. Qualified candidates should have good written and verbal communication skills. Employers may also look for candidates who can work with little supervision and have a professional demeanor. In an entry-level position, inspectors often receive on-the-job training, which can last for up to a year.

Success Tip:

  • Develop good communication skills. Aspiring aerospace quality inspectors can work on these skills by taking courses designed to improve communication in related areas, such as human resources, business communication or public speaking, either in high school or a postsecondary program.

Step 2: Learn to Use Industry-Specific Inspection Equipment

Aerospace inspectors use specialty equipment that may not be used in other quality control inspector positions. After gaining an entry-level position, aspiring aerospace inspectors should gain experience with measurement devices that are used to verify the compliance of aircraft structures, as well as equipment like tensile testing machines, Rockwell hardness testers, plating thickness testers and optical comparators.

Step 3: Obtain Professional Certification

Aerospace quality inspectors have a variety of related certification options. For example, after acquiring around two years of relevant work experience, individuals with a high school diploma can qualify for the Certified Quality Inspector credential offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Certification can improve career prospects by demonstrating an individual's skill level in areas that include basic calibration, knowledge of testing procedures and understanding traceability, as well as illustrate professional commitment to prospective employers. Earning certification, such as the one offered by the ASQ, typically entails successfully passing an examination. Certification usually expires after a number of years and can require completing continuing education and/or successfully passing a recertification examination.

Aerospace quality inspectors ensure the parts and components of aircraft and other aerospace equipment conform to design specifications and meet industry standards. They have high school diplomas, they are expected to be strong and capable of using industry-specific software and tools, and they earn a median annual salary of $36,000.

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