How to Become a Public Health Inspector

Jan 02, 2019

Learn how to become a public health inspector. Research the education and career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in health inspection.

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  • 0:00 Public Health Inspectors
  • 0:53 Career Requirements
  • 1:29 Become a Public Health…

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Public Health Inspectors

Public health professionals are the advocates and enforcers for improved public health in the community. Public health inspectors are responsible for ensuring that state laws and sanitary codes are upheld by visiting public places where health may be affected and conducting routine inspections. They may take measurements, temperatures, or samples from a space in order to determine health safety of a location.

Many public health inspectors work for government entities; such workers may enjoy a measure of job security. Inspectors are often exposed to health risks and must wear appropriate clothing and utilize protective gear such as eyewear, masks, and gloves in order to keep themselves safe. Most inspectors work during normal business hours on a full-time basis.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Natural sciences or health
Licensure/Certification Not required; may be preferred by employers
Experience On-the-job training
Key Skills Detail-oriented; good communication and problem solving skills; general office and internet software knowledge; ability to operate testing equipment
Salary $48,924 (median annual salary 2016)

'Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Environmental Health Association, New York State Department of Health, Salary.com

Public health inspectors need an associate's degree in natural sciences or health. Licensure or certification is not required, but may be preferred by employers. Experience is usually earned via on-the-job training. Public health inspectors should be detail-oriented and have good communication and problem solving skills. They should also have general office and Internet software knowledge, as well as the ability to operate testing equipment. According to 2016 data compiled by Salary.com, health inspectors earned a median salary of $48,924.

Become a Public Health Inspector

Step 1: Complete a Degree Program

Public health inspectors may be able to find work with an associate's degree, but in many cases a bachelor's degree is required for both employment and certification. A heavy concentration of courses within the natural sciences, including biology, geology, chemistry, physics and hydrology, is highly recommended. Once their education is complete and they're hired, new inspectors will undergo an on-the-job training period.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Under the guidance of other environmental health professionals, public health inspectors conduct inspections and report their findings to officials. Many reports they bring in will become public. Establishments must operate by certain standards to ensure the health and safety of the public and comply with public health law and sanitary codes set by the state. Public health inspectors must apply a regimented and consistent approach to their reports.

Step 3: Establish a Work Ethic

Public health inspectors should have a passion for community service and thrive well with established rules and guidelines. Inspectors spend roughly half of their time in the field observing and applying laws and the other half of their time in an office, preparing reports and documenting findings. Inspectors are often entrusted with a variety of tasks in changing settings. Therefore, professionals must have the ability to effectively work independently to solve critical errors when found.

Step 4: Opportunities for Career Advancement

Inspectors with the required education can pass a voluntary certification exam to become a registered environmental health specialist (REHS) or registered sanitarian (RS). These credentials are offered through the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), which also provides continuing education options for certification renewal.

Public health inspectors need at least an associate's degree in a natural science or health field, though some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

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