Pipeline Inspector: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pipeline inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pipeline inspectors examine piping systems for damage or defects that would impact their function. They can get a job with a high school diploma, but a college degree may be required for advancement. Jobs in this field pay well, and job growth is predicted to be steady for at least a few years.

Essential Information

Pipeline inspectors ensure that piping systems lack any defects and run efficiently and smoothly. Inspectors achieve this by performing visual and electronic inspections. The minimum requirement for a pipeline inspector position is typically a high school diploma or GED.

Required Education High school diploma
Certification Optional
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for all construction and building inspectors*
Median Salary (2019) $75,385 for pipeline integrity specialists**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

Pipeline inspectors are responsible for establishing the quality and proficiency of a pipeline system. Inspectors must always abide by public safety guidelines and follow all environmental regulations in order to promote a secure environment around the piping system. Verification that all building codes, specifications, and procedures are being met is a vital part of the position.


A pipeline inspector has a variety of duties including measuring the depth and alignment of trenches and examining the trenches for stones or debris that may damage the pipeline. An inspector may also collect data and information on the surrounding area for possible corrosion factors. A pipeline inspector may do mechanical particle testing of exposed portions of the pipeline and mapping and measurement of metal loss on the system.

Inspectors may perform visual inspections while others perform electronic inspections by using x-ray, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, or electronic crawler inspection methods. Some inspectors use devices called pigs (pipeline inspections gauges), which travel through the pipeline and collect and transmit data using a small computer placed inside of them. Inspectors often must take photo and written documentation of the system and any repairs or assessments


Although a college degree is not often required for entry-level inspector positions, an associate's or bachelor's degree is typically a requirement for mid-level and senior inspector positions. A degree in engineering, architecture, or construction inspection is suitable for a pipeline inspector.

Employers often prefer employees with certification. The American Welding Society offers a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification. All applicants must have a certain amount of education combined with a number of years of work experience. For example, applicants with an associate's degree or higher must have at least three years of experience prior to taking the exam. In order to obtain certification an individual must pass an exam covering inspection fundamentals, practical applications and codes.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, most pipeline integrity specialists earn between $49,132 and $110,000 per year, including bonuses, as of 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to increase by about 7% between 2018 and 2028.

Entry-level pipeline inspectors are not always required to have any education past a high school diploma or GED, but an associate's or bachelor's degree is an advantage for more senior positions. Certification is optional but sometimes preferred. This job requires use of technology and knowledge of necessary testing or data collection strategies.

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