To become certified, public health inspectors need to have completed a bachelor's degree in a subject related to their work, and need experience in their field. Two certification bodies are available to choose from, depending on what is required by an employer or the preference of a public health inspector. Each has its own testing standards and requirements.
Certification for public health inspectors isn't required by law, but many different employers require it. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) and the National Environmental Health Association both offer certification for public health inspectors. Each professional organization has its own requirements to apply for certification.
|American Board of Industrial Hygiene||National Environmental Health Association|
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, sanitary engineering, mechanical engineering or biology||Bachelor's degree (Environmental Health preferred)|
|Required Experience||Four years of professional experience in field||Two years of work experience in environmental health|
|Required Skills||Broad scope industrial hygiene: ergonomical, biological, chemical and physical||Members of association receive discount and in training track is available for candidates|
|Exam Requirements||Two letters of recommendation, $150 application fee, $350 exam fee||Application, transcripts, $125 application fee and $325 exam fee|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||4% (Slower than average)*||4% (Slower than average)|
|Average Salary (2015)||$71,790*||$71,790*|
Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Certification by The American Board of Industrial Hygiene
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) requires a bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry chemical engineering, sanitary engineering, mechanical engineering or biology. A program in industrial hygiene or safety is also acceptable if it is accredited by The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Decision on completion of educational requirements is made based on the science courses listed on an applicant's transcript, in which social science courses are not counted for credit. A minimum of two hours of course work in ethics is also required.
ABIH also requires at least four years professional experience in the field. This means that the work must be relatively autonomous and self-directed, involve significant data gathering and analysis, interaction with decision-makers, and responsibility for work outcome. Experience as a technician or pre-professional is not considered.
It is also required that one has practiced 'broad scope' industrial hygiene. This involves working with at least two of the four stressors: ergonomical, biological, chemical and physical. Candidates also need work experience in multiple environments and functions.
Applicants must also provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation. These and an application fee of $150 are needed to qualify for the exam. The exam itself costs another $350. The examination is given in spring and fall, and the application deadlines are February 1 and August 1, respectively.
Certification by the National Environmental Health Association
The National Environmental Health Association offers two relevant certifications: Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) and Certified Professional of Food Safety (CFP).
For both certifications, candidates may apply as 'in training' and have three years to garner the necessary experience.
To apply, individuals must send the completed application, a copy of her or his university transcript, copies of past certifications (if needed), and the necessary application fees. For non-members, the fee is $125 to apply and $325 for the exam itself. The test is offered once a year, or can be taken by computer via Pearson VUE for an additional $100. A scaled score of 650 out of 900 is needed to pass certification.
Retention of certification requires completion of the following every two years: at least 24 credit hours of continuing education and a renewal fee of $345 for non-members or $130 for members.
Certified Professional of Food Safety Requirements
The CFP certification requites a degree in environmental health or food science that is accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council. Any bachelor's degree and two years of experience in the field will also suffice, as will lower credentials combined with greater experience and passage of any of several food safety exams: Certified Professional Food Manager, ServSafe, Supersafe or Food Safety Managers Certification Examination.
Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian Requirements
The REHS/RS certification requires a bachelor's degree or higher in environmental heath, or a bachelor's degree in any area with at least one course in algebra or higher mathematics and 30 semester credit hours or 45 quarter credit hours in basic science plus a minimum of two years of experience in environmental health.
Salary Stats and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, job positions for occupational health and safety specialists are expected to increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024. This is slower than the national average for all careers. As of May 2015, BLS reports that annual average salaries for public health inspectors are $71,790.
Public health inspectors are not legally required to be certified, but it may be a preference of their employers. Whether they are being certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the National Environmental Health Association, a public health inspector should be prepared to present their college background and experience in the field, among various other requirements.