Health Inspector: Education & Career Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a health inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and registration to find out if this is the career for you.

Education for aspiring health inspectors typically includes a bachelor's degree in environmental health, sanitary science or the natural sciences. Sometimes, health inspectors can work without a bachelor's degree, if they complete required coursework in natural sciences. State or county registration is usually required, as is ongoing continuing education.

Essential Information

Health inspectors ensure compliance with environmental and sanitation standards. They investigate and enforce health statutes for restaurants, hotels, swimming pools and industrial complexes. They typically complete a bachelor's degree program in a natural science, though some jobs may be available to individuals without a degree who have completed a minimum amount of coursework in the sciences.

Required Education Bachelor's degree common
Other Requirements Registration with state or county
Projected Job Growth* 4% between 2014 and 2024 (occupational health and safety specialists)
Median Salary (2015)* $70,210 (occupational health and safety specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements to Become a Health Inspector

Health inspectors, also known as sanitarians or environmental health specialists, typically earn a bachelor's degree in environmental health, sanitary science or a natural science. Students who've completed any bachelor's degree program that includes 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours of natural sciences are generally eligible for sanitarian positions. Some employers may not require a degree as long as applicants have completed 30 semester hours of natural sciences coursework.

Natural science courses that commonly meet eligibility requirements include biology, chemistry, physics, pathology, anatomy, air pollution, industrial hygiene, soil science, toxicology and public health. Social sciences, such as anthropology and psychology, may not apply. Organizations that accredit programs relevant to health inspectors include the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Registration Information for a Health Inspector

Most state or county health departments require individuals to pass a registration examination to be able to practice as a health inspector. In addition to satisfying an education requirement, most municipalities also require some work experience in health inspection or a related field to be eligible to sit for the examination.

Professional organizations, such as the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) typically administer the registration examinations, which occur several times per year. Common test topics include sampling and investigative procedures, food safety, water, wastewater, hazardous materials and pests.

Continuing Education Requirements

Most municipalities require environmental health specialists to renew their registration with a requirement to complete continuing education credits to be eligible for renewal. Registration renewal typically takes place every 1-2 years and requires 12-15 hours of continuing education per calendar year. Continuing education providers may include government agencies, non-profit professional organizations and accredited universities.

Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 4% job growth for occupational health and safety specialists for the years 2014 through 2024. These workers earned $70,210 as a median yearly wage in 2015.

Health inspectors investigate and enforce health statutes, ensuring sanitation and environmental standards. A bachelor's degree is usually required, although a high school diploma may be sufficient with completion of natural science coursework. State or county registration and continuing education are also typically needed for this field.

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