How to Become an Aerospace Inspector: Education and Career Roadmap
Aerospace inspectors need a high school diploma at minimum, but further training or an associate's degree may be preferred by some employers. Apprenticeships and certifications are other ways for workers to distinguish themselves.
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
The minimum requirement for aerospace inspection jobs is typically a high school diploma. For students interested in aerospace technology, excelling in math and science courses in high school may help prepare them for further specialized training.
Step 2: Enroll in an ABET-Accredited Associate Degree Program
While there are no official educational requirements for working as an aerospace inspector, employers may desire individuals with postsecondary training or an associate's degree. Aerospace and aviation technology programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET, Inc.) are offered at many community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and even through universities. It may mean receiving an applied technology degree with a concentration in aerospace or aviation technology. The program will likely consist of general education requirements, in addition to courses in safety, assembly, computer technology and print reading.
Step 3: Consider an Apprenticeship
Aerospace apprenticeships predominately consist of on-the-job training, but may include classroom instruction as well. Meant to provide practical experience and better job opportunities, apprenticeships allow students to work with real aerospace technology employers for several years while supplementing their knowledge. They may provide an official certificate and industry-wide recognition upon completion.
Step 4: Get a Job as an Aerospace Inspector
Employers hiring aerospace inspectors look for candidates with several years of experience, according to a search of CareerBuilder.com job postings in August 2011. Experience can come from apprenticeships or working as assistants to aerospace engineers and technicians. The job postings stated that aerospace inspectors should be competent at math and blueprint reading and have a good communication skills and knowledge of aerospace processes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aerospace engineering and operations technicians earned a mean annual wage of $59,990, as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov).
Step 5: Obtain Certification
Becoming certified in certain aerospace inspection specialties may provide industry recognition and lead to advancement and increased job opportunities. Certifications are available in various nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, which may be required by employers (www.ndt-ed.org). Aerospace inspectors might also seek SpaceTEC certification, which offers three concentration options: composites, aerospace manufacturing and aerospace vehicle processing.
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