How to Become a Bridge Inspector

Bridge inspectors can order repairs on bridges that show damage.
Bridge inspectors can order repairs on bridges that show damage. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Bridge inspectors are tasked with the job of making sure bridges are safe for public travel by looking for damage and recommending repairs. States are responsible for overseeing the inspection of most bridges, with federally owned bridges inspected by federal officers, so bridge inspectors generally work for state departments of travel or for the Federal Highway Administration. They average annual salaries of $39,000 to $63,000. Qualified inspectors must meet the training standards set by the National Bridge Inspection Standards, and most states require certification.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • Driver's license

Meet minimum requirements. Qualified applicants must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Earn basic certification. Many universities and technical schools offer bridge inspection training classes for entry level applicants. Ask the instructor or school if the certification has been approved by the NBIS. Call or email the NBIS Division Bridge office in your state (see Resources) and ask for referrals to an accepted program. Approved classes should include studies on federal codes; steel, concrete and timber bridge evaluation; materials deterioration; and tools and safety. Students will be required to pass a written examination to demonstrate all they have learned.

Determine your state’s additional requirements. Some states require inspectors to earn additional certification or possess college degrees in engineering. For example, some states require SCUBA certification for inspectors who will inspect waterway bridges. Visit the jobs listing on your state’s DOT website or call your state DOT office for direction. Applications should also be available for download.

Complete a job application through either your state DOT website or the Federal Highway Administration’s online portal. For higher-level jobs, pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering, design or a related field. Build your experience level to apply for manager positions. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies also offers certification in bridge safety inspection up to senior level, which can be pursued once an inspector has the appropriate work experience.

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