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How To Get A Job As A Bridge Inspector

Bridge Inspectors On the Job

Bridge inspectors perform a vital job. They insure that the bridges we drive across every day are structurally sound and safe. The reports that they generate can literally save hundreds of lives each year since potential problems are often found and repaired before the bridge is in danger of collapse. Bridge inspectors use specialized lift equipment as shown above and may even SCUBA dive to inspect underwater bridge supports for damage or deterioration. They use specialized instruments to sample and test concrete and steel for defects.

While many private bridge inspection companies require that applicants have a degree, such as in Civil Engineering, many state DOT's will hire bridge inspector apprentices or technicians who are able to become bridge inspectors after a long period of training.

What The Job Is Like

In most cases bridge inspector jobs require frequent travel. Depending on the size of your state, or the territory of your company if working in the private sector, you could spend quite a bit of time away from home. Bridge inspection is normally done in the daytime, however if it is a heavily traveled roadway a lane closure might not be possible until the wee hours of the morning. Most bridge inspection jobs will shut down for heavy rain and snow, but expect to work in all kinds of weather. You will spend much of the job in a man lift device, as seen above. You may have to work in tight quarters and on steep inclines of the bridge supports. You will be required to wear a hardhat, safety glasses and steel toe boots at all times when on the job. Bridge inspectors usually work in teams, with a lead inspector and one or two technicians.

You may spend quite a lot of time filling out detailed reports on your field laptop and processing the information once you return to your office. Bridge inspecting has a lot to do with details, so you must be detail oriented and precise. There are millions of dollars in commerce and in potential lawsuits riding on accurate bridge inspection reports.

Federal Requirements for Bridge Inspectors

The FHWA has very specific requirements that are described in the Code of Federal Regulations for the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS). These are summarized as:

The individual in charge of each organizational unit (the Bridge Inspection Branch of the Bridge Division, the Bridge Inspection Office in each district, or the contract consultant firm) must:

  • be a Licensed Professional Engineer, or
  • be qualified for licensing, or
  • have a minimum of ten years experience in bridge inspection assignments and have completed a comprehensive training course based on the Bridge Inspector�s Training Manual 90.
  • The individual in charge of a bridge inspection team must:
    • have the same qualifications as above, or
    • have a minimum of five years experience in bridge inspection assignments and have completed a comprehensive training course based on the Bridge Inspector�s Training Manual 90, or
    • have certification as a Level III or IV Bridge Safety Inspector under the National Society of Professional Engineer�s program for National Certification in Engineering

    For Bridge Inspector Technicians, The Following Duties May Apply:

    • Performs advanced technical engineering in support of Bridge inspection
    • Acts as lead worker and schedules work of other technical personnel
    • May direct the diving safety program
    • Inspects and appraises bridges
    • Coordinates bridge load posting
    • Rates load-carrying capacities of bridges including appraisals
    • Assists with structural analyses to determine load-carrying capacity of bridges
    • Maintains inspection equipment
    • Performs or assists with fracture-critical and other related bridge inspection activities
    • Performs pre-inspection investigations of existing bridge plans
    • Prepares and/or records data for bridge inspection files

    Bridge inspector technicians may be required to use SCUBA gear for underwater inspection and use man lift devices to inspect the undersides of bridge. Training courses in these types of equipment may be offered after employment. A long period of continuing education is required by all states for both bridge inspectors and bridge inspector technicians.

    Becoming a bridge inspector technician is a good way to get one's foot in the door and eventually qualify to become a bridge inspector. Other states have similar programs. For bridge inspector technician jobs in your state contact your state job bank and search Department Of Transportation job openings.

    Bridge inspector jobs usually have a high degree of job security and with state agencies offer retirement and good benefits.




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