State departments of transportation (DOTs) rely on construction inspectors (CIs) to verify that contracted construction work on transportation infrastructure projects meets standards and specifications and is in compliance with approved plans. CIs are trained and certified for expertise in one or more specific areas, such as earthwork, structures, and pavement. CIs may be state DOT staff or employed by local governments or private sector firms.
A number of forces are affecting the CI workforce, creating challenges for state DOTs. Many state DOTs are facing high rates of attrition and the loss of institutional knowledge as seasoned CIs retire or the agency workforce is downsized, with some CIs transitioning to consultant firms or other employers. At the same time, fewer individuals recognize construction inspection as a career option; the number of candidate CIs entering the transportation construction industry are inadequate to meet current and projected needs.
The nature of construction inspection work is changing in several ways. Evolution in contracting mechanisms used to deliver transportation projects (e.g., design build or DB, construction management general contractor or CMGC, design-build-operate-maintain or DBOM, public-private partnerships or P3s) alters how risk and responsibility are allocated among the contracting parties, which, in turn, defines the decision-making authority for the project and the roles and responsibilities of CIs. The skills needed for construction inspection have also evolved. An important area of change is the increasing use of technology in inspections such as remote and mobile inspection applications. These applications require CIs to be conversant with wireless and digital communications, competent with a range of software applications, and adaptable when technology tools change or are upgraded. Inspection technology is anticipated to continue to evolve as emerging technologies, such as autonomous inspection vehicles, are adopted.
The objective of this research was to develop a guide to help state DOTs and their partners in the transportation construction industry develop and maintain a CI training and certification program that is responsive to the changes affecting the CI workforce. The guide addresses the following program components:
- Core competencies
- Formal education
- Informal education
The guide also addresses how a CI training and certification program can support geographic portability of CI certifications, career mobility within a level of responsibility, and paths to progressive responsibility.
STATUS: Research is complete. The guide is available here: DOI: 10.17226/26878