Inspection engineers identify problems with structures like bridges, oil pipelines and roads and share their results with construction teams in an attempt to prevent accidents and other catastrophes. These engineers are hired to boost quality control on large projects such as highways, overpasses and fossil fuel processing facilities.
Bridge and Highway Inspection
A bridge inspection engineer focuses on the structural integrity of a bridge, checking for fractures in concrete, rust on metal supports and other problems that affect the overall condition of the bridge. Highway inspection engineers monitor the condition of roadways, testing for skid resistance, drainage and the quality of pavement and cement mixtures. These professionals spend a lot of time traveling to the bridges, highways, roads and construction sites they inspect.
Oil and Gas Inspection
An inspection engineer working for an energy company keeps track of the condition of oil and gas pipelines, pumps, tanks, vessels, valves, structural supports and other equipment. They make sure all hardware functions properly and efficiently and complies with government codes and standards. Inspection engineers go over the data acquired from testing all the equipment and structures, determining the best course of action for maintenance routines and procedures. If equipment ends up being faulty or dangerous, the engineer advises an appropriate course of action.
Senior and supervising inspection engineers handle leadership duties in addition to testing and analysis. Calling on their experience, a supervisor or senior inspection engineer coordinates training for bridge inspectors and supervises the work of inspectors under their command. Senior and supervising inspectors also communicate with their own managers, providing updates on the outcomes of their work in addition to plans for future inspections. This part of the job requires preparing and presenting reports that communicate details to everyone involved in the inspection process.
Becoming an Inspection Engineer
Inspection engineers need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the profession, though the specific degree depends on the type of inspection. Bridge inspection engineers need a degree in civil engineering while inspection engineers working on mechanical hardware such as oil pumps and pipelines need a degree in mechanical engineering. Other requirements vary according to the employer. These might include obtaining a license to conduct engineering work, physical tests and first aid training. Advancing to leadership positions requires considerable experience of up to 15 years of work in a specific field.