How to Become a City Health Inspector: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a city health inspector. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a city health inspector. View article »

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Video Transcript

City Health Inspectors

A city health inspector examines buildings, offices, and homes for dangerous hazards that affect the health of the public, including exposure to lead, asbestos, pesticides, and bug infestations. City health inspectors are employed by local governments. Their focus is to keep the public safe by ensuring restaurants, stores, and other buildings meet or exceed heath and safety codes and regulations.

The job of a health inspector is a full-time position and comes with a measure of job security. City government positions generally offer good pay and benefits. Health inspectors may be exposed to dangerous locations and toxic materials. As such, protective gear, like goggles and earplugs as well as clothing, will be required while working in the field. Some work hours are spent in an office setting, writing reports and recommendations.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Industrial hygiene, biology, physics, chemistry, engineering, or related field
Certification Optional professional certification available
Key Skills Active listening, speaking, critical thinking, social perceptiveness, monitoring, systems evaluation, judgment, and decision-making skills
Salary (2015) $70,210 per year (Median for health and safety specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O Net Online, American Industrial Hygiene Association

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Steps to Be a City Health Inspector

Step One: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), bachelor's degree majors applicable to health inspectors include engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, and industrial hygiene. Within a physical science major, one can expect to learn how prolonged exposure to hazardous substances affects workers. A physical science major also prepares one for laboratory skills and data analysis, which can be important in becoming a city health inspector.

Step Two: Gain Work Experience

Work-study opportunities through internships provide an aspiring city health inspector with practical work experience in the field while he or she is still in college. Many universities encourage or require participation in internships and often allow credit for the experience toward a degree.

Step Three: Become Certified

Organizations such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the AIHA offer voluntary certification for those with the requisite experience and completion of a college degree. Certification examinations test knowledge in health hazards, safety controls, regulatory standards, and inspection methods. Credentials such as the Certified Safety Professional and Certified Industrial Hygienist recognize an individual as skilled professional, which may lead to career advancement.

Step Four: Fulfill Continuing Education Requirements

Updated training through continuing education courses, seminars and workshops is necessary to maintain a valid credential. Schools and organizations offer courses in assessment, monitoring, disease control, and risk management.

Step Five: Consider an Advanced Degree

A master's degree program in industrial hygiene provides advanced education and research opportunities in occupational, industrial and public health and safety. Candidates of a graduate degree often require a bachelor's degree and completion of prerequisite coursework in math and science. Courses in management, compliance and environmental sciences prepare graduates for advancement in the field.

City health inspectors need at least a bachelor's degree in industrial hygiene, chemistry, biology, or a related field, and the median salary for these professionals is $70,210 as of 2015 data.

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