Pipeline Inspector: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pipeline inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Pipeline inspectors ensure that piping systems lack any defects and run efficiently and smoothly. Inspectors achieve this by performing visual and electronic inspections. The minimum requirement for a pipeline inspector position is typically a high school diploma or GED.

Required Education High school diploma
Certification Optional
Projected Job Growth 12% between 2012 and 2022 for all construction and building inspectors*
Median Salary (2014) $73,455 for pipeline integrity specialists**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

Pipeline inspectors are responsible for establishing the quality and proficiency of a pipeline system. Inspectors must always abide by public safety guidelines and follow all environmental regulations in order to promote a secure environment around the piping system. Verification that all building codes, specifications, and procedures are being met is a vital part of the position.

Duties

A pipeline inspector has a variety of duties including measuring the depth and alignment of trenches and examining the trenches for stones or debris that may damage the pipeline. An inspector may also collect data and information on the surrounding area for possible corrosion factors. A pipeline inspector may do mechanical particle testing of exposed portions of the pipeline and mapping and measurement of metal loss on the system.

Inspectors may perform visual inspections while others perform electronic inspections by using x-ray, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, or electronic crawler inspection methods. Some inspectors use devices called pigs (pipeline inspections gauges), which travel through the pipeline and collect and transmit data using a small computer placed inside of them. Inspectors often must take photo and written documentation of the system and any repairs or assessments

Requirements

Although a college degree is not often required for entry-level inspector positions, an associate's or bachelor's degree is typically a requirement for mid-level and senior inspector positions. A degree in engineering, architecture, or construction inspection is suitable for a pipeline inspector.

Employers often prefer employees with certification. The American Welding Society offers a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification. All applicants must have a certain amount of education combined with a number of years of work experience. For example, applicants with an associate's degree or higher must have at least three years of experience prior to taking the exam. In order to obtain certification an individual must pass an exam covering inspection fundamentals, practical applications and codes.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, most pipeline integrity specialists earn between $54,763 and $110,876 per year, including bonuses, as of 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) indicated that the employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to increase by about 12% between 2012 and 2022.

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