The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that operators of commercial vehicles get certifications after an inspection to ensure that they are not a danger to the public. One of the most common forms of certification are hazardous materials certifications, such as the Hazardous Materials Transportation Certification (HMT P30) and the Hazardous Materials Air Shipper Transportation Certification (HMT P35). These certificates are given after an inspection by an official DOT inspector, who is a paid employee of the DOT.
Hazardous Materials Inspector Responsibilities
DOT inspectors are responsible for certifying the safe transportation of hazardous materials, but they are also responsible for conducting periodic inspections of hazardous materials handling and transport on airplanes, ships, trains, trucks and other vehicles as well as at depot and transport centers. In the case of accidents, DOT inspectors are also responsible for investigating the causes of the accidents and the potential danger of any unintentional releases of hazardous materials.
DOT Inspector Training and Education
DOT inspectors are usually trained internally in the DOT before they become inspectors, and may start out as assistants to inspectors or as trainees. After sufficient experience in the department and at least one year of experience with the inspection process, applicants may become inspectors themselves.
DOT Inspector Base Salaries
Because of the responsibilities of the position and the high level of knowledge required, DOT inspectors begin at a high level of the federal salary scale. DOT inspectors begin at the salary level GS-12. As of January 2011, this pay grade includes base salaries between $60,274 and $78,355 annually, with pay increases depending on experience.
Regional Variation of DOT Inspector Salaries
Although all DOT inspectors are paid according to the GS-12 salary level, no inspector will earn these exact figures. This is because the United States government increases this base pay at variable rates to match the different costs of living in different parts of the country. For this reason, DOT inspectors in Seattle will earn slightly more than DOT inspectors in Alaska. In addition, DOT inspectors also enjoy a number of perks, such as health insurance, a pension plan, and paid vacations.