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We are all familiar with that number or letter score at our favorite eatery. We take pride in seeing 99 or an A, and pretty much anyone can guess that score is conducted by a Health Inspector. But did you know Health Inspectors, also known as Sanitarians or Environmental/Occupational Health Inspectors, inspect all kinds of different work environments?

Although a degree is not necessary to becoming a Health Inspector, it’s a good idea to obtain a postsecondary degree before entering this field. It will definitely give you more leverage in securing a job.

Education

You’ll want to take general courses such as:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Soil Science
  • Pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Toxicology
  • Public Heath

You may choose to major in Occupational Safety and Health in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or certificate program at the community college level or go right to an undergraduate or graduate program. Seek out a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the major of Occupational Health, a natural science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Environmental Science or Public Health. 30 semester hours of natural sciences are required to work as a Health Inspector.

Sure, you will have a lot of boring basic science classes to take, but eventually you will learn all kinds of safety procedures, legal aspects and building codes of occupying public and private spaces, construction safety, industrial ergonomics, OSHA regulations, restaurant inspection, and accident and fire prevention. Oh, and sorry, but you will never look at a restaurant in the same way again. That is a given.

Where do you Inspect?

  • Schools and camps
  • Food service facilities
  • Adult and child care facilities
  • Jails
  • Offices
  • Factories
  • Mines

On-the Job Training/Registration

A prospective Health Inspector needs to train on-the-job after their formal education. So it would be in your best interest to set up those contacts while in school. The place where you receive training should coincide with what type of Health Inspecting you plan to practice. Many employers prefer to hire job applicants who have previous work experience, even if it came from working an internship in college.

Most town districts will require their inspectors to become a Registered Inspector and keep up an annual renewal. Registration typically requires approximately 12-15 hours of continuing education per year. The classes may take place at a non-profit organization or an accredited university.

Job Expectations

Know this: it’s a job not for the faint of heart. You have to follow ethical standards and strict guidelines. Your inspection can make or break a business; heck it can break you personally! Inspectors may be exposed to dangerous conditions and unsafe environments, so be brave and careful.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Studies (BLS), 32% of Occupational Health Inspectors worked for federal, state, and local governments in 2012. Many jobs required extensive traveling.

Outlook

The BLS website estimates job growth at 7% between the years 2012-2022. A curious fact is that the U.S. has an increased interest in nuclear power as an energy source; BLS predicts that may increase jobs for specialists in that field. The Inspectors will be needed to maintain safety of the power plant as well as the neighboring environment.