How Do I Become a State Health Inspector?

A state health inspector enforces state health codes by inspecting food, housing and work establishments. Find out about the typical work responsibilities and the education needed for this career, along with certification and licensure information. Schools offering Epidemiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Education Do I Need to Become a State Health Inspector?

Education and training requirements for state health inspectors vary by state and by the type of inspection you may be performing. Some positions require experience and an associate's degree, while others require undergraduate or graduate degrees in occupational safety, environmental health or public health. Specific degree programs in public health nutrition and certificates in public health inspection are available, as well as training programs in specific areas of inspection, such as swimming pool inspection. If you're interested in management, you may need a graduate degree along with ample work experience.

Each state has its own laws regarding health inspections and thus you need to know the law so that you can enforce applicable health and sanitary codes. State-specific health-inspection courses may be found through state-sponsored education programs and some training may be completed on the job.

What Credentials Do I Need?

Some states have certification, registration or licensing programs for health inspectors. You may be required to pass an exam or complete a course in the type of inspection you perform. You can earn voluntary credentials from professional organizations, such as the National Environmental Health Association, in order to demonstrate your knowledge in the area of health inspection.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a state health inspector, you inspect buildings and equipment for potential safety and contamination issues. You may take samples of food or other substances, evaluate risks and write reports on your findings. You use your judgment in applying laws and regulations to the particular establishment or site. You may also need to complete follow-up visits and reports, and you might have to levy fines, make recommendations for improvement and educate employees and employers about safety standards.

This is mostly a 40-hour per week job, however you may be evaluating night or weekend shifts, which might require occasional odd or overtime hours. Because you'll observe places that may be in violation of health and safety codes, you may be placing yourself at risk. You'll work in an office and travel to evaluation settings when needed.

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