Your Guide to Becoming a Coating Inspector and Finding the Best Jobs

Whenever a project in construction, manufacturing, or a similar industry demands the use of protective paint and coating, it’s crucial to hire a well-trained coating inspector, also known as a paint inspector. Side by side with coating specialists, certified coating inspectors help improve and monitor the conditions in which the coating work is performed.

The inspector will assess the environment, the weather, the surface preparation process, and advise the specialists on the safest and most effective ways to work and abide by the most important health and safety regulations.

In case you have been working as a coating specialist and you are considering a career in inspection, this role might be a good fit for your skills and experience. 

What Is a Coating Inspector?

Although the coating inspector makes sure that the final coating meets all industry requirements, they also take an active part through the entire coating process. At every stage, a certified coating inspector works alongside other professionals on the project. Since an inspector actively provides guidance and direction, an inspector also works as a coating advisor. This type of ongoing, proactive collaboration prevents health and safety issues on site and increases the longevity and safety of the applied coating. 

The goal for the inspector is to see if the coating specialists have managed to select and perform the most optimal coating methods for the project. To prevent corrosion and any kind of structural damage, an inspector oversees the work of coating specialists and performs tests on the protective paint itself. 

Depending on the niche you work in, coating inspection jobs entail a whole spectrum of responsibilities. 

Your Duties and Responsibilities 

The job differs from one position to another, and you can expect employers and projects to come with varying degrees of responsibility. But some duties fall under your scope of work no matter your chosen field.

  • Work closely with the coating specialists and other professionals on the project to determine the precise scope of work, including the materials used, budget, health and safety protocols, and deadlines.
  • Outline the entire process with the paint contractor and other workers, to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and timelines.
  • Assess all the areas where the paint work will be done to evaluate the quality of equipment and procedures that will be used. 
  • Keep track of the general atmospheric conditions that might affect the coating process. 
  • Verify the paint is in line with the client or contractor’s specifications as well as all the necessary health and safety requirements.
  • Participate in the surface prepping process, to reduce the risk of coating errors or subpar results that might reduce the lifespan of the protective layer.
  • Perform visual and any other types of inspection requested by the owner of the project.
  • Some common tests performed by a coating inspector include penetration testing, adhesion testing, and impact testing.
  • Write detailed reports to notify the owner of any defects and issues before, during, and after the coating is applied.
  • Communicate with the Quality Control Supervisor and any other QC team members working on the project.
  • Calibrate and inspect the equipment and technology needed for the project.
  • Provide quality assurance on the work completed.

Since there are many types of projects and materials that need sealants and protective coating, some inspectors can choose to specialise in one particular role. 

We’ll cover some of the most in-demand coating inspection jobs, but keep in mind that many inspectors with the right certification will meet the requirements beyond these positions. 

That said, when you invest in regular certification and training, you have a much better chance of switching from one coating inspector role to another and gaining plenty of versatile job experience. 

Bridge Coating Inspection

To find work as a bridge coating inspector, you will most often need to have NACE certification, any of the three available levels. You need to be comfortable working at heights and familiar with the right safety protocols for such work.

The protocols for bridge paint inspection differ from one region to another, but certain fundamental principles apply - and you can refer to this FHWA manual to get a better understanding of the job at hand. 

Industrial Coating Inspection

Most commonly used materials in heavy industries such as concrete and steel require extensive knowledge of different non-destructive testing methods and tools. Depending on the industry, you also need to understand the specific safety protocols and codes that apply to the project. 

For example, you can expect different protocols for performing your inspection duties when working in a nuclear power plant, a military facility, or an off-shore rig. Exposure to lead, harsh chemicals, and other high-risk substances and situations means you need to have the right training to know your way around such specific environments. 

Pipeline Coating Inspector

Pipelines are an essential component used in the oil and gas industry. Preventing corrosion, spills, wear and tear, as well as common environmental damage is crucial. Due to the risk and demands that come with the job, the average pipeline coating inspector salary can be around $63,997.

Working as a pipeline coating inspector often involves navigating tight and hard-to-reach areas, as well as a fair amount of lifting weight. 

Welding Coating Inspector

Since welding is an integral process for oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, automotive, and so many other industries, inspectors in this sector are essential to make sure all the weld-related coating is done properly.


A screenshot of the AMPP page showing CIP certification levels.

Relevant Industry Certifications

The National Association of Coating Engineers, or NACE for short, is in the process of merging with the SSPC program to form what is now known as AMPP, or the Association for Materials Protection and Performance.

Until this merger is complete, all existing NACE and SSPC certifications for Coating Inspectors are considered valid, provided that they haven’t expired. When the time comes to renew your NACE or SSPC credentials, you can look for available accredited training opportunities in your region.

Now, the unified Coating Inspector Program (CIP) offers three levels of CIP certification combining the knowledge and skills of both NACE and SSPC. You will also be able to obtain speciality coating inspector courses precisely if you want to specialise in a particular portion of the field.

For example, if you want to land coating inspection jobs in a particular niche, such as marine coating, nuclear, or fireproofing, you can find dedicated AMPP courses.

NACE Certification

Many aspiring coating inspectors are wondering how to become NACE certified and thus qualify for so many jobs in this industry. During the AMPP transition, any NACE coating inspector with valid certification in accordance with the old program can still apply for NACE coating inspector jobs.

This shift is bound to take some time, and while the industry is adjusting, your existing credentials still matter.

However, if you haven’t been certified in the past and you’re now looking to qualify for what used to be treated as NACE inspector jobs, you should focus on the currently relevant AMPP qualifications. 

Instead of the traditional NACE CIP Level 1, NACE Level 2, and NACE Level 3 terminology, you can expect to be certified as: 

  • Basic Coatings Inspector (Level 1) 
  • Certified Coatings Inspector (Level 2)
  • Senior Certified Coatings Inspector (Level 3)

SSPC Certification

The same applies to every SSPC certified protective coating inspector in the industry. While your previously obtained SSPC training is completely valid, you will now need to apply for the blended certification program once your current credentials expire.

Qualification Requirements

While there are no prerequisites to apply for the CIP Level 1 Course, in order to get certified after the exam, you also need to complete the Ethics for the Corrosion Professional course, or a course equivalent. The course is suitable for Coating or Paint Specialists, QA managers, fabricators, and personnel of similar work experience.

Once you start the program, you have 4 years to complete the training and pass the exams. The course itself lasts 5 days. Recertification is necessary after 3 years, and it costs $450.00. 


A screenshot of the TWI site's page showing the BGAS-CSWIP certification course for Coatings Inspectors.

BGAS Coating Inspector Certification

The BGAS-CSWIP course is useful for pipeline personnel such as welding inspectors and for paint specialists who already have experience with coating application methods and NDT inspection. Provided by TWI in multiple locations around the world, this is another certification program that many employers consider valid during job applications. 

To qualify for the course itself, you need to have at least one month worth of industrial experience as well as good working knowledge of essential health and safety practices, pipeline fabrication processes. It’s useful to know the techniques and tools for coating application, but it isn’t mandatory.

You can participate in the course without having any prior experience, so you have the option of gaining experience after the course, but before you get certified. 

The price for the course plus the exam: £1,230.00 + VAT 

Average Coating Inspector Salaries 

While the industry standard included 3 NACE levels, the salaries reflected the difference in experience and expertise. For example, the typical NACE level 1 salary for a coating inspector would be around $79k per year. 

The NACE level 2 coating inspector salary wasn’t extremely high in comparison and would typically be around $80k per year, but NACE level 3 coating inspectors did have notably higher pay: $86 per year.

Although the industry is shifting towards a different certification system, we can still expect those with more experience and advanced certifications to earn well above the average hourly or annual pay for this position.

Average Salary in the US

The median hourly rate for coating inspectors in the US can be around $25, but for those with more experience and knowledge, the rate can reach as high as $40 per hour. Annually, the median salary for a coating inspector is around $74,497.

Average Salary in the UK

NACE coating inspector jobs in the UK can bring you an average of £35,750 per year, or £14.34 per hour. Contractors with a significant amount of experience, on the other hand, can charge close to £30 per hour.

Average Salary in Canada

Canada-based coatings inspectors can expect to charge around C$31.57 on average, or C$82,000 annually. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the best-paid coatings inspectors in Canada can earn over C$100k per year.

Average Salary in AU

Coatings inspectors in Australia earn AU$42.00 per hour on average, which means that they can bring home an annual salary of AU$100,000. For extra experience and advanced certifications, you can add AU$25k to the final annual tally.

Boost Your Coating Inspector Resume

With so many available jobs for NACE certified coating inspectors as well as those with other internationally-recognized qualifications, you might assume that all it takes is to showcase your qualifications to get hired. 

But with online training courses and global certification programs now widely available, it’s important to create a presentable, well-organised resume tailored to each employer so that your name stands out.

Having in-depth knowledge of the industry, BuildStream experts can create a resume for you to make sure more employers notice your expertise. A good resume focusing on the most crucial aspects of your experience and credentials is bound to attract more hiring managers. 

Use BuildStream to Find Coating Inspector Jobs

The BuildStream platform is designed to help match the best industry professionals with the finest employers on the market. You can register on BuildStream free of charge and the next time there’s a coating inspector vacancy, you can apply for the position quickly and effortlessly.

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