What Qualifications Does a Pipeline Inspector Need?

Work as a pipeline inspector requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, though a post-secondary degree, such as an associate's or bachelor's degree in engineering or construction inspection, is required for most mid- and senior-level positions. While employers typically provide on-the-job training, basic knowledge of pipeline inspection is expected prior to employment and certification is preferred. The American Welding Society, the American Association of Pipeline Inspectors and the National Center for Construction Education and Research offer applicable certifications.

Pipeline inspectors, regardless of education, training or certification, must evidence specialized knowledge in the field, including non-destructive testing, GPS surveying and remediation and possess a working knowledge of current state and federal regulations and standards for utility pipelines. Strong written and oral communication skills are essential to success as a pipeline inspector. Pipeline inspectors must be able to work effectively work as part of a team, but much of the work is done on their own in the field; so the ability to work on one's own without direct supervision is also a requirement for success.

The American Welding Society certification requires a combination of education and work experience prior to sitting for the Certified Welding Inspector examination. The American Pipeline Inspectors Association has no requirements for its Certified Pipeline Inspector examination but recommends that candidates hold at least one of several related certifications prior to the examination. The National Center for Construction Education and Research offers a pipeline training and assessment program that, upon completion, satisfies the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for qualification as a pipeline operator.