Transportation Inspectors


Inspect equipment or goods in connection with the safe transport of cargo or people. Includes rail transportation inspectors, such as freight inspectors, rail inspectors, and other inspectors of transportation vehicles not elsewhere classified.

Whether a vehicle flies at high altitude, rolls on 18 wheels or hauls cargo across oceans, a transportation inspector makes sure it meets all laws and regulations. They keep vehicles, cargo, and passengers on the move as well as safe. Vehicle inspectors examine cars, trucks, and accessories to report on the condition of their parts, typically for a car dealership or a government agency. They ensure there are no illegal devices on cars or trucks, such as those meant to get around auto emissions laws. They also conduct test drives to see that everything sounds, and feels, like it’s running smoothly, and to determine whether there’s been prior damage. Physical strength may be needed to lift heavy equipment for some inspections. Typically, vehicle inspectors need a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Aviation inspectors review all procedures, equipment, and systems on an aircraft to ensure it meets federal safety regulations. They examine flight logs and maintenance records to verify all required checks have been performed, and investigate accidents and complaints to determine causes. Most positions require a certificate from an aviation maintenance technician school approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, along with on-the-job experience. Freight and cargo inspectors ensure ships’ freight is secured and complies with regulations. They measure ships’ holds and tank contents, calculate hold capacities and check conditions of shipping and storage areas. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree.

What does a Transportation Inspector do?

A transportation inspector ensures vehicles or other modes of transportation meet safety regulations and report any violations that need immediate attention. They look for customizations that may not meet safety regulations and check the emissions to ensure they meet environmental standards. Transportation inspectors also reinspect transportation after repair work is complete to ensure quality standards are met. Other job titles include emissions inspector, car inspector, quality assurance inspector, locomotive firer (trains), or vehicle inspector.

How to Become a Transportation Inspector

A high school diploma is needed to become a transportation inspector. Some industries require you to have certifications inspect vehicles, though most provide on-the-job training. Others entering this career field choose to attend a trade or vocational college. Here they learn the skills necessary to inspect various transportation modes. According to O*Net Online, over 13% of those surveyed earned certification after high school.

Certification programs can be earned through community colleges or vocational schools. They include in-person instruction and hands-on experience. Quality assurance, mechanics, transportation regulations, and safety protocols are lesson examples.

Many transportation inspectors start as mechanics; therefore, they learn all there is know. This can be valuable, especially when ensuring the safety of the transportation equipment that they are inspecting.

Job Description of a Transportation Inspector

Transportation inspectors’ essential job is inspecting vehicles for damage, mechanical failures, safety violations, and emissions pollution that exceed regulations. They work with diagnostic equipment to find problems, perform visual scans of vehicles, and inspect a vehicle’s gauges to ensure everything is working correctly.

Ultimately, this ensures the safety of other vehicles on the road. Transportation inspectors report areas for improvement and areas that must be fixed. After a vehicle has been serviced, they may also reinspect to ensure the changes were made appropriately.

Transportation inspectors work in indoor and outdoor conditions. Therefore, can be exposed to dust, hot/cold temperatures, or chemicals that can be dangerous. Protective gear may be necessary at times. This job can be physically demanding. They are also required to bend, lift, and may have to climb onto things throughout the day. Inspectors usually work full-time and are employed by private shops or state inspection agencies.

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