Transportation Inspector: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 24, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a transportation 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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Transportation inspectors' job duties vary according to the means of transportation they work with, such as planes, railroads and buses. They must have patience, an understanding of mechanics, an eye for detail, and the ability to handle possible dangerous situations.

Essential Information

Transportation inspectors make sure modes of transportation, such as airplanes, subways, trains, and buses, are up and running properly. They also ensure that all equipment adheres to federal safety regulations and requirements and is safe for passengers to ride.

Education requirements vary by specific subfield; in some cases, professional experience might suffice. Some industries require transportation inspectors to complete specialized training programs or hold a degree in a field such as mechanical engineering.

Required Education Varies by industry; many become inspectors through promotion with years of experience
Other Requirements Certification required in some fields; aviation inspectors must pass examinations administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 4% for transportation inspectors*
Median Salary (2018) $73,780 for transportation inspectors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Transportation inspectors make sure modes of transportation are working properly and meet safety regulations. There are different types of transportation inspectors for different types of transportation. For example, aviator inspectors specialize in inspecting airplanes, while railroad inspectors deal with trains and railways. There are also public transportation inspectors who deal with city buses, school buses, and even tour buses. They also handle subways and streetcars.

All transportation inspectors must know the ins and outs of the equipment and have a keen eye for detail. They must be patient and carefully look over all aspects of their project since people's safety is dependent on their decisions and abilities.

Job Duties

Transportation inspectors make daily inspections of airplanes, railroads, buses, and other modes of transportation to make sure they're running properly and are safe to ride. A railroad inspector makes sure that the track and the train cars are in working order. If repairs need to be made, the inspector must give the go-ahead before the train can run again.

An aviation inspector not only examines airplanes, but also makes sure all communication devices in air traffic control centers and on planes are in working order; he or she is responsible for ensuring that everyone has a clear line of communication. Public transportation inspectors make sure buses are working properly and that the brakes work; they also must deal with accidents.


Requirements are different for each type of inspector. For example, aviation inspectors have to go through up to two years of special training at a school approved by the FAA. They also must pass a series of tests before getting their certification. Most inspectors start out as maintenance workers and work their way up in the field. A degree in a related field, such as mechanical engineering, might give an individual a leg up when applying for jobs.

Inspectors of all types must be able-bodied and have a strong understanding of mechanics. They must work well under pressure and be prepared to deal with high-stress and even dangerous situations.

Transportation inspectors ensure the proper safety, operational and guideline adherence for their specific mode of transportation. While education requirements vary, some need certification, a degree or years of industry-specific training. Job growth for transportation inspectors is predicted to be average over the 2018-2028 decade.

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