Chapter 3: Qualifications and Responsibilities of Bridge Inspection Personnel

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Section 1: Requirements

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General Requirements

Personnel involved in the various bridge inspection activities must be qualified for their specialized jobs. In general, depending on the level of responsibility, they must be knowledgeable in the various aspects of bridge engineering including design, load rating, construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance.

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Federal Requirements

The United States Code (23 U.S.C. 151) requires the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with State transportation departments, to establish national bridge inspection standards for the proper safety inspection and evaluation of all highway bridges. These requirements are spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations (Part 650, Subpart C) and govern the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) through purpose, applicability, definition of terms, qualification of personnel, inspection frequencies, inspection procedures, inventory procedures, and supporting references.

The NBIS have specific qualification requirements for individuals working in the bridge inspection program of a state. These are summarized as:

  • The individual in charge of each organizational unit (the Bridge Inspection Branch of the Bridge Division, the project manager for each firm under contract with TxDOT to perform bridge inspections) must:
    • be a Registered Professional Engineer or have a minimum of ten years experience in bridge inspection experience; and
    • successfully completed an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course.
  • The individual in charge of a bridge inspection team (Team Leader) must:
    • have the same qualifications as above, or
    • have a minimum of five years experience in bridge inspection assignments and have successfully completed an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course, or
    • be certified as a Level III or IV Bridge Safety Inspector under the National Society of Professional Engineer's program for National Certification in Engineering Technologies1 (NICET) and have completed an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course; or
    • have all of the following:
      1. a bachelor's degree in engineering from a college or university accredited by or determined as substantially equivalent by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; and
      2. successfully passed the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying Fundamentals of Engineering examination;
      3. two years of bridge inspection experience; and
      4. successfully completed an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course; or
  • have all of the following:
    1. an associate's degree in engineering or engineering technology from a college or university accredited by or determined as substantially equivalent by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; and
    2. four years of bridge inspection experience; and
    3. successfully completed an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course.
  • The individual charged with the overall responsibility for load rating bridges must be a registered professional engineer.
  • An underwater bridge inspection diver must complete an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course or other FHWA approved underwater diver bridge inspection training course.
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AASHTO Requirements

AASHTO also has essentially the same requirements as the FHWA. These are described in the current AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation2.

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TxDOT Requirements

At a minimum, all bridge inspection activities performed by TxDOT and by TxDOT bridge inspection consultants must comply with Federal requirements. In addition to Federal requirements for bridge inspection personnel, some jobs may require more specific job-related knowledge and skills such as:

  • The use of breathing apparatus for underwater inspection.
  • The various applicable requirements for inspection safety including applicable Occupational, Safety, and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, such as safety requirements for working in confined spaces and at heights.
  • Advanced computer skills related to bridge analysis.
  • Geotechnical and hydrological knowledge.
  • Familiarity with TxDOT bridge construction specifications and with current and old TxDOT bridge designs.

TxDOT also has special requirements for consultants retained to perform bridge inspection tasks. All firms must be pre-qualified. Further information on consultant requirements is presented later in this chapter in Section 3 titled “ Bridge Inspection by Consultants.”


1. National Society of Professional Engineer's program for National Certification in Engineering Technologies, National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), current.

2. Manual for Bridge Evaluation, AASHTO

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