Becoming a Health Inspector: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a health inspector career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a health inspector is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career in Health Inspection

Health inspectors observe and analyze work environments to make sure they align with safety and health regulations. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of becoming a health inspector and decide if it's a good career choice for you.

Pros of Becoming a Health Inspector
High average salary ($70,000 annually)*
High rate of job satisfaction (on average, 90% of inspectors are satisfied with their work)**
Certifications and professional societies available for career development*
Range of possible specializations and work environments*

Cons of Becoming a Health Inspector
Frequent travel may be required*
Risk of exposure to chemicals*
Need to be able to anticipate problems before they occur (evaluating workplace safety)***
May need to wear bulky or uncomfortable safety equipment***

Sources: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Board of Certified Safety Professionals, ***O*NET OnLine.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Health inspectors are in charge of observing and analyzing the safety of work environments. As a health inspector, you'll specifically check to make sure that workplaces align with safety and health regulations. You'll identify hazards in a workplace, including chemical and biological threats. You might provide recommendations on how to further increase safety measures in the workplace, or create programs designed to prevent damage to workers and the environment.

Other tasks could include investigating workplace accidents, determining how they happened and how they can be prevented in the future. In addition to preventing harm, your work can contribute to maintaining worker productivity. For example, you might ensure that workspaces are well-lit and equipment is properly maintained.

Career Paths and Specializations

Where you work can vary considerably since occupational health and safety specialists need to inspect places that range from office complexes to mine shafts. You might collaborate with engineers, doctors and technicians in your work. It's possible to specialize in the prevention of certain types of hazards or the safety of particular workplaces. For example, food health inspectors ensure that food products are safe at each step in the supply process, and construction safety specialists work primarily at construction sites.

Other specialties include industrial hygiene, environmental safety, ergonomics, loss prevention and transportation safety. No matter your specific type of health and safety work, you'll likely need to travel frequently, and you could be exposed to dangerous conditions or chemicals.

Salary and Outlook Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational health and safety specialists earned an average of $70,000 in May 2014. The federal government had the highest levels of employment in the industry.

The BLS also predicted employment growth to be slower than average, at 7% from 2012-2022. Job growth should be stronger in the fields of nuclear power and manufacturing than in other health and safety specialties.

Education and Training Requirements

Most specialists have a bachelor's degree in a scientific or technical field. However, degrees in occupational health or safety can also make you qualified. Some positions might require a specialized master's degree in fields like health physics or hygiene. Other positions might require you to be licensed, such as when working as a lead-based paint assessor. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most require passing an exam and meeting certain professional requirements. Other specific training will happen on the job, and all occupational health and safety specialists should have the following general skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Technical and mechanical abilities to work with equipment

What Employers Are Looking for

Employers often prefer to hire college graduates with a few years of experience. They may also look for people who can work with little supervision. Below are health inspector job postings that were available on Careerbuilder.com in April 2012.

  • A Maryland environmental consulting firm is looking for a lead-based paint inspector with 3-5 years of experience. The position requires traveling 50% of the time. Applicants should be able to work independently and have strong computer skills. A high school degree is required, although college graduates are preferred. The ideal candidate needs to be licensed as a paint inspector/risk assessor within 4 months of being hired.
  • A survey company in Colorado advertised for insurance inspectors for contract work. Duties include traveling to the site of insured clients and inspecting property for safety compliance. Applicants with a degree in environmental health or safety are preferred.
  • A staffing firm is seeking a safety specialist for work in Texas. The ideal candidate has 3-5 years of safety experience in the manufacturing industry and is familiar with particular safety standards. Base pay is listed at $55,000-$65,000 per year.
  • A Florida lighting design company advertised for a safety and environmental health specialist. Duties include planning safety tests, managing a hazardous waste program and handling issues pertaining to injured employees. Applicants should have at least 5 years of relevant experience and a bachelor's degree. The posting states that applicants need to be fluent in both English and Spanish.

How Can I Stand Out?

High school students can prepare for postsecondary work by studying English, math and a variety of types of science. Internships during high school and college can provide valuable work experience that can help you land a full-time job later on.

Get Certified

Certifications can increase your professional credibility and might even be required by some employers. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers a variety of certifications at different levels and with different professional concentrations, such as construction health technician or loss control specialist. Specialty-specific boards and organizations also offer certification, such as the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Individuals are generally eligible for certifications based on experience and education. They must also pass an exam.

Other Fields to Consider

If the idea of promoting health and safety in the workplace appeals to you, you could pursue a career as a health and safety engineer. Rather than inspecting sites for safety violations, you would work mostly in an office designing solutions for possible safety and health problems. For this job, you will need to have a bachelor's degree. The BLS reports that job growth is expected to be average (13%) from 2010-2020, and the average earnings were $79,000 in May 2011.

You could also consider becoming a construction and building inspector, where you would review construction plans and monitor the safety of interior systems, city infrastructure and construction projects to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, though many have completed at least some postsecondary coursework. You can specialize in many types of inspection. According to the BLS, job growth is expected to be average (18% between 2010-2020), and construction and building inspectors earned an average salary of $55,000 per year in May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Independence University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Accounting (BS)
      • Business Administration (BS)
      • Business Administration - Human Resources Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Marketing Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Technology Emphasis (BS)
      • Health Information Management (BS)
    Associate's
      • Business (AAS)
      • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
    Bachelor's
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
      • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA: Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management: Entrepreneurial Studies Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • Bachelor: Health Care Management
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Accounting
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
      • Diploma: Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting
      • Networking Systems Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
      • M.S. - Public Relations
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Creative Writing for Entertainment (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
    Certificate
      • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
      • Ed.D. - Sports Management
    Master's
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • M.Ed. - General Education
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership
      • Education Specialist - Special Education
      • Education Specialist - International Education
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate Degree in Nursing
      • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration - Associate
    Certificate
      • Business Administration/Accounting
      • Computer Career - Networking
      • Cosmetology
      • Expanded Function Dental Assistant
      • Medical Assistant
      • Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
  • Campus Locations:
    9. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Collision Repair and Refinishing
      • Automotive Technology
      • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
      • Electrical/Electronics
      • Diesel Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    10. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • MBA - Accounting
      • MBA - Human Resources
      • MBA - International Business
      • MBA - Operations Management
      • Master of Accountancy

Featured Schools

Independence University

  • Accounting (BS)
  • Business Administration (BS)
  • Business (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • AASBA in Business

Which subject are you interested in?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
  • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Fortis College

  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration - Associate
  • Business Administration/Accounting
  • Computer Career - Networking

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?