Restaurant Inspector: Duties, Outlook and Salary

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

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A restaurant inspector typically works for the health department, making sure any place that serves food meets safety and sanitary regulations. They may flag an establishment if it's not up to par, preventing it from serving food until the problem is rectified. An applicable college degree is needed and licensure may be required.

Essential Information

Restaurant inspectors ensure that food vendors follow food preparation and sanitation codes mandated by the government. These professionals are typically employed by local government agencies. Prospective restaurant inspectors should seek a bachelor's degree in safety, occupational health or a related field, and they may also be required to obtain licensure depending on employer requirements.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Licensure License may be preferred
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for all occupational health and safety specialists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $70,210 for all occupational health and safety specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Restaurant Inspector Job Duties

Restaurant inspectors verify food safety by evaluating different aspects of food service environments. While duties vary by state regulation, inspectors commonly assess insect and rodent presence, food handling and storage, equipment maintenance and cleanliness, worker hygiene, and cooking temperatures. Inspections are usually carried out without warning to restaurant owners. Inspectors conduct visual examinations in addition to collecting and recording data, such as refrigerator temperature and disposal methods. They often document evidence of infractions by taking photographs and samples.

After completing examinations, inspectors write reports based on the collected data and will often assign the restaurant a score or grade, which must be visibly posted by the establishment. If scores are not posted, some restaurant inspectors have the authority to temporarily close the businesses or penalize restaurant owners.

If there are serious infractions of food safety code, restaurant inspectors may also have the authority to issue citations and suspend operations until the infractions are resolved. Inspectors may work with vendors to find solutions and correct problems. Should legal action be required for noncompliance with the law, restaurant inspectors might be required to appear in court to provide testimony.

Restaurant Inspector Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide outlook statistics specifically for restaurant inspectors; however, the BLS reports that employment of occupational health and safety specialists in general is projected to increase 4% from 2014-2024 ( This growth will result from increased retirements as well as the need to enforce new health regulations. The BLS reported that employment of environmental health specialists, a related occupation, is projected to grow by about 11% from 2014 to 2024.

Restaurant Inspector Salary Statistics

Occupational health and safety specialists, such as restaurant inspectors, earned a median wage of $70,210 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The lowest paid ten percent of these workers earned $40,890 or less per year, while the top-paid ten percent earned $102,980 or more per year. The median annual salary reported for environmental health specialists was $67,460.

Restaurant inspectors investigate food establishments to ensure workplace and food safety and sanitation, documenting and collecting any evidence of violation. Occupational health and safety specialists in general made around $70,210 per year. The job growth for these professionals is slower than average at four percent.

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