How Do I Become a State Health Inspector?

Research what it takes to become a State Health Inspector. Learn about education requirements, licensure, job responsibilities, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Community Health Education & Advocacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does A State Health Inspector Do?

A state health inspector, also known as an occupational health and safety specialist, enforces state health codes by inspecting food, housing and work establishments. They also may analyze work environments and procedures to make sure the company is adhering to safety, health, and environmental regulations. Responsibilities may also include collecting hazardous materials for analysis and conducting training sessions for employees. Take a look at the following table for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Occupational Safety, Environmental Health, Public Health
Training Required On-the-job training is offered by most companies
Certification/Licensure Certification or licensure may be required depending on the state
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024) 4% for all occupational health and safety specialists*
Average Salary (2015) $71,790 for all occupational health and safety specialists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a State Health Inspector?

Education and training requirements for state health inspectors vary by state and by the type of inspection you may be performing. Some positions require experience and an associate's degree, while others require undergraduate or graduate degrees in occupational safety, environmental health or public health. Specific degree programs in public health nutrition and certificates in public health inspection are available, as well as training programs in specific areas of inspection, such as swimming pool inspection. If you're interested in management, you may need a graduate degree along with ample work experience.

Each state has its own regulations regarding health inspections, so you'll need to know the specific laws in your area to enforce applicable health and sanitary codes. State-specific health-inspection courses may be found through state-sponsored education programs and some training may be completed on the job.

What Credentials Do I Need?

Some states have certification, registration or licensing programs for health inspectors. You may be required to pass an exam or complete a course in the type of inspection you perform. You can earn voluntary credentials from professional organizations, such as the National Environmental Health Association in order to demonstrate your knowledge in the area of health inspection.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a state health inspector, you inspect buildings and equipment for potential safety and contamination issues. You may take samples of food or other substances, evaluate risks and write reports on your findings. You use your judgment in applying laws and regulations to the particular establishment or site. You may also need to complete follow-up visits and reports, and you might have to levy fines, make recommendations for improvement and educate employees and employers about safety standards.

This is mostly a 40-hour per week job, however you may be evaluating night or weekend shifts, which might require occasional odd or overtime hours. Because you'll observe places that may be in violation of health and safety codes, you may be placing yourself at risk. You'll work in an office and travel to evaluation settings when needed.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Construction and building inspectors require similar education credentials. They ensure that construction meets all codes, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. Many of these inspectors only need a high school diploma or its equivalent and some on-the-job training to get started. Fire inspectors perform similar duties but focus specifically on potential fire hazards and require specified training. It's common for fire inspectors to have prior experience as firefighters. Finally, environmental scientists and specialists may help clean up polluted areas or work with policymakers to reduce waste. These professionals must have at least a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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