What Degree or Major Should a Health Inspector Have?

Jan 02, 2019

Health inspectors, also called occupational safety and health inspectors, analyze work environments of all kinds to ensure the safety of workers, the environment and the general public. Depending on the field of interest, health inspectors may enter the work force with a certificate, an associate degree or a bachelor's degree; some positions require a master's degree.

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Health Inspector Degrees and Majors

Aspiring health inspectors have several program options to choose from, mostly at the undergraduate level. Explore some of these certificate and degree programs as well as common courses for each.

The degree needed by an aspiring health inspector depends on the position they're pursuing. Some jobs and employers require only a certificate or associate degree for entry-level positions, usually as an occupational safety and health technician. Earning a bachelor's degree can help prepare students for work as occupational safety and health specialists or health inspectors. A master's degree is usually required for more advanced positions, such as safety director or risk management consultant.

For their major field of study, many aspiring health inspectors attain a degree or certificate in occupational safety and health, public health, or industrial hygiene. In these programs, they will learn about ergonomics, hazardous materials, waste management, electrical engineering, and accident prevention, among a host of other relevant topics.

Occupational S&H Certificates

An occupational safety and health certificate can generally be completed with 12 to 24 credit hours and can provide graduates with a basic foundation of safety knowledge for the workplace. Certificate programs offer coursework that covers topics such as:

  • Safety and health management
  • OSHA regulations
  • Principles of ergonomics
  • Accident investigation
  • Hazardous materials
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Construction safety

AAS in Occupational S&H

An associate degree program in occupational safety and health requires approximately 60 credit hours to complete and will require some general education courses. Major courses include the fundamentals of occupational safety and health, construction safety, hazardous materials management, OSHA regulations, environmental regulations, and fire protection organization. Associate programs for aspiring health inspectors may also include coursework in:

  • Accident prevention and investigation
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Industrial ergonomics
  • Waste management

BS in Occupational S&H

A bachelor's program in occupational safety and health is roughly 120 credit hours and also requires general education courses, such as math, science, history, and English. In addition, students study legal aspects of safety and health, fire prevention and safety, construction safety, industrial ergonomics, and industrial accident prevention. Programs also generally cover topics such as:

  • The human factor
  • Safety systems
  • Health physics
  • Electrical safety
  • Design of engineering hazard controls

BS in Public Health

A bachelor's degree program in public health also requires approximately 120 credit hours and general education coursework. Core courses cover personal, public, emotional, and environmental health, as well as human sexuality. Students also study

  • The process of disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Community health organizations
  • Analysis of public data

MPH in Industrial Hygiene

Earning a Master of Public Health in Industrial Hygiene usually requires 45 to 60 credit hours. Coursework includes biostatistics, epidemiological methods, principles of toxicology, principles of industrial hygiene, industrial ventilation and hazard control, health risk assessment, and radiological health. Students also study:

  • Exposure assessment
  • Chemical hazards evaluation
  • Airborne contaminates control
  • Social and behavioral factors that affect public and global health

Individuals wishing to become health inspectors can pursue a certificate, undergraduate degree, or graduate degree program in majors such as occupational health and safety, public health, or industrial hygiene.

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