A railroad inspector must ensure that all equipment is working properly, all tracks are clear, all communications devices are being used effectively, and all other operations are within safety guidelines or regulations before a train can safely operate on any railroad system. Railroad inspectors must be well-versed in railroad procedures as well as any applicable laws. This person is usually employed a government agency that regulates transportation, though such agencies may not exist in some countries.
There could be several different types of railroad inspectors. For example, a power and equipment inspector may focus solely on inspecting locomotive engines and equipment for compliance with local laws and regulations. A track inspector, on the other hand, will be in charge of ensuring that all tracks, signals, transfer devices, and other components along a railroad line are in good working order. Although both railroad inspector positions focus on train safety, each inspector may be trained in different areas to ensure a thorough understanding of the task at hand.
Although no specific level of education is required to become a railroad inspector in many cases, candidates with at least a high school diploma are generally preferred. Higher-level positions will require a candidate to have a college diploma or some post-secondary training, and a candidate with a background in engineering will be seen as a more valuable option. Because the job frequently involves mechanical processes and components, having a basic understanding of how such systems work can be extremely beneficial. Certification may be required to work as a railroad inspector, though the specific requirements that a candidate must meet vary region.
When an accident occurs, a railroad inspector is likely to be in charge of investigating the incident and compiling a report that summarizes any necessary changes. Inspectors must be willing to travel frequently, and sometimes quite far, in order to inspect tracks and address any issues that may arise along a railroad system. This necessitates the inspector’s possession of a valid driver’s license as well as a spotless driving record. In some cases, the inspector’s credit score may be checked because he or she will most likely be given a company credit card to use for travel expenses. If the inspector works for a federal agency, he or she may be required to meet additional qualifications to work for the government.