Cost-effective and reliable damage detection is critical for the utilization of composite materials. This paper presents the conclusions of an experimental and analytical survey of candidate methods for in-situ damage detection in composite structures. Experimental results are presented for the application of modal analysis and Lamb wave techniques to quasi-isotropic graphite/epoxy test specimens containing representative damage. Piezoelectric patches were used as actuators and sensors for both sets of experiments. Modal analysis methods were reliable for detecting small amounts of global damage in a simple composite structure. By comparison, Lamb wave methods were sensitive to all types of local damage present between the sensor and actuator, provided useful information about damage presence and severity, and present the possibility of estimating damage type and location. Analogous experiments were also performed for more complex built-up structures. These techniques are suitable for structural health monitoring applications since they can be applied with low power conformable sensors and can provide useful information about the state of a structure during operation. Piezoelectric patches could also be used as multipurpose sensors to detect damage by a variety of methods such as modal analysis, Lamb wave, acoustic emission and strain based methods simultaneously, by altering driving frequencies and sampling rates. This paper presents guidelines and recommendations drawn from this research to assist in the design of a structural health monitoring system for a vehicle. These systems will be an important component in future designs of air and spacecraft to increase the feasibility of their missions.