How to become a Certified Bridge Inspector – Detailed Guide

By | November 6, 2023
How to become a Certified Bridge Inspector
To become a certified bridge inspector involves completing certain training and certification programs.

How to become a Certified Bridge Inspector – Detailed Guide

Are you interested in the bridge inspection career and want to know what it takes to become a certified inspector? If you are, then this post will be very useful to you.

You will learn about the career in details, including the training and certification programs you need to complete to become a certified bridge inspector.

Please read on:

Who is a Bridge Inspector?

Bridge inspectors are engineers who evaluate bridge conditions to ensure that the public is secured.

They use different equipment and tools to find out damages that occur on a bridge, and recommend solutions immediately.

There are bridges that have been structured for years and need to be renovated. It is the work of bridge inspectors to handle the assignment.

For bridge inspectors to get certified, they need to enroll in a training and certification program.

There are many certification programs they can attend, but they need the minimum educational requirement which is a high school diploma or GED for entry-level into any of the programs.

Bridge Inspector Educational Requirements and Career Pathway

High school diploma or GED is required for most entry-level bridge inspector jobs. Some higher positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in civil engineering.

The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) requires that the bridge inspection training courses offered by most universities are approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

The bridge inspection training course explores concrete, steel, timber bridge evaluation, steel deterioration, waterway evaluation, tools, safety, federal codes and inventory forms.

Training and Certification for Bridge Inspectors

As a bridge inspector, you need a program that will train you, set exam for you, and finally certify you.

The advantage of attending a certification program is the knowledge and skills students will acquire. Make sure that any certification program you enroll in is accredited and recognized.

Here are some training and certification programs you can check out:


National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) created a program called Bridge Safety Inspection comprising four levels of certification.

The level I program is for technicians who perform limited job tasks under frequent supervision; Level II is for those who perform routine tasks under general daily supervision; Level III is for technicians under little or no daily supervision, work with plans, standards, instructions, and specifications; and Level IV is designed for independent, senior-level technicians in supervision section.

There is no prior certification requirement for certification at Levels II, III, and IV, but it requires meeting the certification requirements of the lower levels.

The requirements for Bridge Safety Inspection Certification are following:

  • Sufficient work experience
  • Successful performance on a written exam based on job tasks
  • Supervisor verification of competency in job tasks
  • Personal recommendation required at Levels III and IV.

The application fee for Bridge Safety Inspection certification program is $290, and rescheduling fee $150.

After processing your application, a confirmation notice from NICET will be sent to you with directions to your test center and additional information.

Your score report will be sent in a mail two to three weeks after the exam. Certification will be issued as soon as all requirements have been met.

The fee for the Special Recertification Exam is different from the certification program fee and is paid per exam, even when two exams are scheduled the same day.

NHI Certification Course

The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) accredited the National Highway Institute (NHI) as an Accredited Certification Course Provider.

The NHI program for certifying bridge inspectors complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. The accreditation also authorized NHI to offer IACET Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

The NHI certification course is based on the 2015 FHWA “Bridge Inspector’s Reference Manual (BIRM), and was updated in 2012 and 2015.

Training is offered on the safety inspection of in-service highway bridges, including two virtual bridge inspection exercises facilitated using NHI’s Virtual Bridge Inspection (VBI) Computer-Based Training (CBT) technology.

It also entails instruction on critical discoveries, their identification and response, curriculum on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) element level inspection approach using the 2013 AASHTO Manual for Bridge Element Inspection 2015 Interim Revisions, and activities that increase participant engagement throughout the course.

This course will not go into depth on fracture critical, underwater, or complex bridge inspections. These are covered by 130078 Fracture Critical Inspection Techniques for Steel Bridges and 130091 Underwater Bridge Inspection.

Participants are required to complete a mid-term and end-of-course assessment tests and to make 70 percent score or above to successfully complete the course and receive a certificate of completion.

The examinations may be supervised by the sponsoring agency that retains the scores for certifying bridge inspectors.

Candidates who successfully complete this course will fulfill the comprehensive bridge inspection training requirements of the National Bridge Inspection Standards. For a lot of states, there are additional requirements for becoming a bridge inspection team leader.

BCI Certification Program

The Bridge Coating Inspector Program (BCI) has two advanced levels of its certification course. The First Level is a 5-day training course, including course exam. Time for class is 8am and ends at 5pm Monday to Friday.

The cost is $995 for members and $1,195 for non-members. Credit requirement for CEU is 4.5, and the certification lasts for four years. There are no prerequisites for this course.

The second level of BCI certification program is a 6-day course, including course exam and certification.

The program’s level includes the Level I course which lasts for 5 days, then the sixth day is the Level II program. Time for class is 8 to 5 Monday to Friday, 8 to 1 Saturdays.

Course fee is $1,395 for members and $1,595 for non-members. Credit requirement for CEU is 4.5, and certification is durable for four years. There are prerequisites for this course.

Licensing for Bridge Inspectors

The requirements for obtaining a license as a bridge inspector vary according to the state where the bridge inspector is operating. Licensing requirements may include practical field experience, minimum education such as a high school diploma, and finally, passing a state-approved exam.

While some states have individual licensing programs for bridge inspectors, others may offer program according to certification by specific associations such as the National Fire Protection Association, International Code council, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.

Bridge Inspector Duties and Responsibilities

Bridge inspectors are responsible for ensuring that bridges are in good condition by employing various means that may seem effective.

Some of their duties are:

  • Climb bridges to thoroughly inspect their components
  • Make accurate and detailed bridge inspections to ensure safe train movement
  • Inspect and monitor construction sites to make sure there is compliance
  • Examine level, alignment, and elevation of structures
  • Monitor installation of equipment and materials to make sure building meets codes
  • Use instruments and tools for surveying, metering, and testing equipment during inspection
  • Keep daily records of information gotten during inspection
  • Take photographs of structures, bridges and other equipment
  • Approve strategies that meet building codes and standards.

Employment for Bridge Inspectors

In 2012, about 102,300 jobs were held by bridge inspectors. The government employed about 47%, and most were local government workers.

In addition, 26% were employed in the engineering and architectural sectors. About 11% decided to work for themselves instead of seeking employment.

Bridge Inspector Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bridge inspectors earned an average salary of $56,420 in 2013.

Also, according to the salary research conducted by in September 2014, bridge inspectors made a median annual salary of $50,755.