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How to Become a DOT Inspector

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Transportation is a cornerstone of American living. We travel across federal roads, highways and bridges, take flight in airplanes, ship our commercial goods and family heirlooms using trains, trucks and ships. The U.S. Department of Transportation manages the safety standards and inspection of the U.S. transportation system. Inspectors can be found in almost every department of the DOT, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration. No single path is required to become a DOT inspector but there are steps that could prepare you to qualify as one.

Train in your chosen transportation field as a mechanic, technician or engineer. Inspectors working for the Department of Transportation can be found inspecting any number of items including vehicles, ships, planes, roads, bridges and interstate highways. Look for mechanic and technician training through trade, vocational and technical schools or obtain a structural engineering degree from a four-year college.

Work in the transportation field you are interested in. DOT inspectors are required to have extensive experience in their chosen field. Look for mechanic, technician and engineering jobs with an airline, a rail or shipping company or construction company building roads and bridges.

Work as an inspector or supervisor in the transportation field you are interested in. Inspectors and supervisors are often promoted from within the ranks of experienced mechanics and technicians working for a company.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that airline aviation mechanics in a supervisory position with experience in overhaul and maintenance may qualify to become FAA inspectors.

Obtain further education. Climbing the ranks to an inspector or supervisor position may require you to learn more about maintenance, safety or project management to qualify. Take continuing education courses, obtain a four-year degree or accept training opportunities and advanced education offered by the company you work for.

Find an open DOT inspector job description and see what qualifications are required. The DOT lists open jobs on its career website. Finding out what the qualifications are can help you streamline your choices when negotiating job changes or choosing continuing education classes.

For instance, a Railroad Safety Inspector position posted through the DOT Federal Railroad Administration requires the applicant to know about safe processes for controlling or containing fires, explosions and leaks and railroad accident investigation procedures. Making the effort to learn more about this topic will help you qualify for the position.

Apply for a job with a DOT department. Some inspector positions may be promoted from within the DOT agency. The DOT maintains a job search function at its main website that lists open inspector positions and other job titles from its various departments.


Live a clean life. Federal employees are subject to drug testing, background checks and clean driving records where driving is a job requirement.


Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.

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