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How to Become a Health Inspector [Step-By-Step]

If you’re considering a career in public health, you may be interested in finding out how to become a health inspector.

For many candidates, this is a highly rewarding profession that offers a pretty lucrative income.

Plus, you get to ensure that the establishments you’re assigned to are clean and safe for public use.

Yet, before you go down this career path, take the time to understand the duties and responsibilities that come with this position.

This post has everything you need to know about the job of a health inspector, average salaries, and the steps needed to launch your career.

An Overview of Health Inspectors: A Primer

The job of a health inspector is rather unique. While its duties cover a wide range of responsibilities, the main aim of a health inspector is to protect the public and maintain their safety.

Part of a health inspector’s job is primarily preventative. This is where they work to raise awareness among employers and their employees regarding their responsibilities under the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

They also investigate industrial accidents and customer complaints. It usually requires a joint effort with insurance and legal departments, maybe even local authorities.

Following an accident or complaint, the health inspector acts as a health safety officer who is concerned with the environmental safety of the establishments in their community.

Their biggest responsibility is to visit the establishment and collect information about what happened.

Much like law enforcement, they rely on evidence to prove whether a facility is sanitary. Sometimes, they’re even required to present their findings in court as a professional witness.

It’s worth noting that the term ‘health inspector’ is an umbrella term for different kinds of inspectors.

Each type is different starting with the courses they study in college to the various job duties they’re responsible for.

The four basic types of health inspectors are:

  • Restaurant health inspector: Checks food production establishments to ensure they’re following all established safety and sanitation guidelines.
  • Safety inspector: Investigates work sites to see if they’re adhering to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations
  • Environmental health inspector: Makes sure businesses are complying with environmental laws.
  • Public health inspector: Assesses and eliminates risks to human health while minimizing negative impacts on the environment.

How Much Do Health Inspectors Make?

A health inspector’s salary varies depending on their level of education and field experience.

The average salary for this position is around $59,000 annually or $28 an hour.

Entry-level jobs start at $46,000 per year, whereas the most experienced make around $92,000 or about $33 an hour.

What You’ll Need to Become a Health Inspector [& Associated Costs]

Here’s a brief list of what you’ll need to become a civil servant responsible for making sure that employers follow safety and health legislation.

  • Bachelor’s degree: Tuition fees for a Natural Sciences program run about $33,000.
  • Associate’s degree: Tuition fees for an associate’s degree are around $4,000.
  • Health Inspector Credentials: Certification fees differ depending on the type of certification you’re pursuing, but the average cost of the exams is $350, and a yearly renewal fee of $200.
  • Graduate degree: Tuition fees for a graduate degree can cost around $25,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Health Inspector?

The average cost of becoming a health inspector is about $34,000.

However, you may decide to pursue an associate’s or graduate degree later in your career. In that case, you can expect the cost to increase and fall between $59,000–$63,000.

Is It Hard to Become a Health Inspector?

Working as a health inspector can be considered taxing by some people because you need to follow meticulous guidelines and adhere to them.

You also need to monitor any and all recorded potential health hazards to ensure public safety.

That said, if you enjoy working with people and you’re able to take on the responsibility of keeping your community safe, you’ll probably find this job more fun and exciting rather than grueling and demanding.

The hardest part is that you have to be strict, but fair, when filling out inspection forms.

You may also have to deliver an unfavorable report to a restaurant or other establishment, which can upset employers and make the relationship awkward.

Yet, if they’re following the required codes and regulations, you two should get along fine!

How Long Does It Take to Become a Health Inspector?

First, you need to get your high school degree. Then, complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of natural sciences to qualify for work as a health inspector.

Most bachelor’s degrees require 120 semester hours to graduate. That comes to an average of five classes per semester or 30 for the full school year.

So, you can look for an entry-level position as a health inspector after one year of college.

Yet, be forewarned that most employers look for candidates who have completed their bachelor’s program and have some work experience.

That’s why we recommend earning your bachelor’s degree before working as a fully licensed inspector.

After that, you may also consider advancing your career to work in higher-ranking positions and make more money.

How to Become a Health Inspector in 5 Simple Steps

These five steps will show you what it takes to enter the exciting world of health inspectors. Take a look.

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma

The first requirement for entering the field of public health is finishing your high school education.

Working hard in high school and getting good grades is a surefire way to enroll in a more established college.

You can also increase your chances of getting into a good college by scoring well on your SAT or ACT.

Step 2: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

After high school, the next step is to complete a bachelor’s program.

Look for courses that focus on subjects like organic chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and toxicology.

It also helps if you take classes on food safety guidelines as well as public safety regulations and codes.

After their bachelor’s degree, some people apply for an associate’s degree in natural sciences. It lasts only two years but makes you stand out as a more qualified professional.

The most common degree for a public health inspector is:

  • Public health nutrition
  • Public health
  • Environmental health
  • Physical science

Step 3: Earn a License or Certification

Most states require health inspectors to be certified or licensed before looking for work. So, refer to your state’s guidelines to figure out the requirements.

If you do need certification, the health department in your city or state will likely offer the programs you need. These programs usually cover public health, sanitation, food service, and code enforcement.

Depending on your state and the type of program, you may need to take a couple of courses and pass a written exam to become certified.

The American Board of Industrial Hygiene offers the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). In addition, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers the following credentials:

  • Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
  • Certified Safety Professional (CSP) Certification
  • Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST)

Step 4: Apply for an Internship Program

An internship program is a great way to gain practical experience in the field under the guidance of a mentor or supervisor.

Internships can also help you expand your professional network and even find a job after graduation.

Some colleges offer internships as part of your degree. If not, you can find a suitable internship provided by various public health programs.

Step 5: Get a Graduate Degree

The public health industry as a whole is constantly growing and developing, and the same is true for health inspection.

So, to advance your career, you need to continue your education and get a graduate degree in public health.

In a graduate program, you’ll learn about risk assessment for food, food biotechnology, and food law.

Then, once you earn your degree, you can take on more advanced roles with higher salaries.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Health Inspector

Check out some of the upsides of maintaining safety and health regulations.

  • A high rate of job satisfaction: Polls show that over 85% of health inspectors are satisfied with their jobs, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment in this field to grow by about 5% by 2030.
  • Find various certifications available for career development
  • Work in diverse settings: You can inspect places like schools, childcare facilities, offices, factories, camps, food service facilities, and more.
  • Choose from a range of specializations: Possible roles include health and safety coordinator, safety officer, and safety representative.
  • Team up with different agencies and organizations

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Degree for a Health Inspector?

The most suitable degree for a health inspector is occupational health and safety.

You can also pursue a degree in a related field, such as natural sciences, healthcare, biology, public health, and environmental sciences.

What Is the Salary of a Health Inspector?

The average annual salary of a health inspector starts at $46,000 for entry-level positions. Median salaries are around $75,000, which is higher than the national average salary.

In contrast, salaries in the top 10% are about $92,000.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If the idea of promoting health and safety in the workplace, you can consider pursuing a career in one of these fields.

  • How to Become a Home Inspector: In many states, all you need to be a home inspector is a high school degree or its equivalent as well as errors and omissions (E&O) and general liability insurance. Some states require a certification exam or a certain number of hours of work experience with a licensed real estate inspector.
  • How to Become a Food Critic: The job of a food critic requires a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like journalism or communications. You also need to take culinary courses to expand your knowledge of food.
  • How to Become a Product Reviewer: You don’t need a formal education to become a product reviewer. Yet, you do have to be familiar with the products you’re testing out and the manufacturing company.

Wrapping Up

Maintaining health and safety standards is vital to ensure a clean and sanitary environment.

Now that you know how to become a health inspector, are you ready to put your investigation skills to work?

It may not be the easiest job. However, there’s a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind knowing you’re doing your part in keeping the public out of harm’s way.

Tell us what you think in the comments below, and don’t forget to share!

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