RigUp Roles: Pipeline Inspectors

What is a pipeline inspector?

A pipeline inspector is a contract professional working on behalf of a service company who is responsible for the thorough and complete inspection and testing oversight of pipelines. A pipeline inspector may do anything from inspecting the circumstances of new pipe construction to assessing existing pipelines for quality, efficiency, and compliance. These pipelines could be for anything from oil, gas, or water to refined petroleum products. The inspector’s role in inspecting, testing, and overseeing a line is imperative to ensure that the construction company is delivering a suitable product to the midstream company who commissioned the pipeline.

What are the responsibilities of a pipeline inspector?

A pipeline inspector tests and oversees pipelines to ensure efficient and safe transportation of contents. A pipeline inspector verifies pipelines’ compliance with environmental, building, and procedural regulations. They may also performs tests, and collect measurements and data on potential pipeline installation sites. These pipelines range anywhere from 4” gathering lines to 42” large scale cross country transmission lines, and they are typically made up of 30’ long segments which are welded together by contract welders. Inspections include visual testing of exposed pipe seams, assessing x-ray scans of buried pipelines, and employing pigs (pigging) to assess a pipeline. Pigs are electronic devices that traverse the pipeline and collect data for the pipeline inspector to interpret that may indicate problems with the pipeline such as cracks, defects, and corrosion. Pigging is sometimes used to clean pipelines as well.

What is the required experience or career path for a pipeline inspector? 

Previous experience in pipeline construction is preferred in a prospective pipeline inspector. However, someone with no experience can be trained for this position. Entry-level pipeline inspector positions do not require an undergraduate or technical degree, but a degree is preferred for mid-level and senior positions. Some certifications are available and beneficial for pipeline inspectors such as a welding inspector certification.

Where does a pipeline inspector work?

A pipeline inspector spends about 80% of their time at the pipeline location and the remaining 20% at a service yard.

What is a pipeline inspector's schedule?

A pipeline inspector’s schedule is dependent upon the job for which they are hired. Inspecting several small lines may mean the pipeline inspector’s schedule is intermittent. More involved jobs may require constant and potentially rotational work to handle the continued support of construction.

Who does a pipeline inspector report to?

The pipeline inspector reports to the construction consultant, pipeline superintendent, operations engineer, COO, or CEO depending on the size of the company (one would report to a CEO in the smallest company and a construction consultant  in the largest company, for example)

Who reports to a pipeline inspector?

There is typically no direct report to a pipeline inspector.

How much does a pipeline inspector make?

A pipeline inspector makes on average $500 per day. They may make between $350 and $1,000 per day depending on experience, specialties, and location.

Learn how RigUp helps Pipeline Inspectors make up to $30,000 more a year.