State Health Inspector Jobs: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a state health inspector. Learn about education requirements, job duties, salary, and job outlook 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 Is a State Health Inspector?

From farms and manufacturing plants to restaurants, schools and hospitals, state health inspectors ensure conditions in these industries are safe for workers and the public. They conduct thorough investigations to make sure that work practices, equipment and products are all in compliance with government regulations. These can include direct observations, as well as biological and chemical experiments on substances found in the workplace. Inspectors prepare reports based on the results of their tests and observations, which they deliver to government health departments. These findings can be used to devise strategies that address any potential sources of risk in order to prevent future accidents at the workplace in question.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Occupational health, safety
Key Skills Inspect the work site, evaluate conditions, write reports
Certification Commonly required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4%*
Median Salary (2015) $70,210*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Become A State Health Inspector?

If you're interested in becoming a state health inspector, you'll need an associate's or bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety or a science-related major. You'll find some inspector positions may require specific job experience or the completion of an apprenticeship program. In most cases, you'll receive on-the-job training from your employer in the areas such as regulation compliance and enforcement.

You'll need continuing education to keep up-to-date on industry regulations and standards. If you want to pursue a management position you can improve your advancement opportunities with a graduate degree and professional certifications.

What Do Health Inspectors Do?

State health inspectors work in a variety of areas and industries. As a government employee, you may work to enforce the regulations and guidelines of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which cover all private employers (www.osha.gov). OSHA administers some state plans directly, and approves those that are handled by states individually.

As a state health inspector, you may visit sites to inspect the following:

  • Stability and safety of machines
  • Structural integrity of buildings
  • Fire safety
  • Elevators
  • Carnival and festival safety
  • Food sanitation
  • Germ prevention practices
  • Agricultural safety
  • Environmental hazards
  • Mining and mineral extraction conditions

You'll inspect the work site, evaluate conditions, write a report and follow up with the business or operation to ensure compliance. You may be asked to make recommendations for safety improvements and to testify about your observations in court. You'll typically work a 40-hour week, although you may have to conduct evaluations during night shifts or on weekends. You'll spend a lot of time away from your office visiting work sites in which conditions may be unsafe or unsanitary.

How Do I Apply?

States vary on their hiring process. Some may accept online, walk-in or mail-in applications only. Along with a state's minimum requirements, you may need to pass an exam testing your knowledge of the field. You'll then be placed into an application pool from which candidates are selected and interviewed. Some states have hiring preferences for veterans and in-state resident applicants. Most also require a criminal background check and drug screening.

How Much Will I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual salary in May 2015 for state health inspectors was $70,210. Job growth in this field is expected to be slower than average, at 4%, between 2014 and 2024. Individuals with specialties in more than one area are expected to have the best job opportunities, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of focusing on general workplace safety, you could focus your career on fire safety inspection. As a fire inspector, you would evaluate both residential and commercial buildings to make sure that they are in compliance with fire codes. You would also conduct investigations after fires have occurred in order to identify their causes. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma. Alternatively, you could consider a job as an environmental health specialist, where you would collect samples such as soil and water and test them for contaminants that violate government regulations and/or negatively affect human health. You usually need to get a bachelor's degree for this job.

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