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. Trident University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
      • Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
      • Doctor of Business Administration
      • Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
      • Educational Leadership (Ph.D.)
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education
    Bachelor's
      • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
      • Business Administration (BSBA)
      • Human Resources Management (BSHRM)
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
      • Information Technology Management (BSITM)
      • Leadership (BSL)
    Associate's
      • Professional Studies (ASPS)
    Certificate
      • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Walden University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • PhD in Psychology - Teaching
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
    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)
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Reading with an Emphasis in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Nursing: Public Health
    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)
  • Online Programs Available
    5. 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
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
      • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    6. 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
    7. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
      • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • DBA: Healthcare Management
      • DBA: Marketing
      • DBA: Project Management
      • DBA: Human Resources
    Master's
      • MA: Communication
      • MS: Criminal Justice
      • MA: Professional Counseling (60-hour)
      • Master of Arts in Public Policy - Public Administration
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Industrial Organizational Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Business Administration
      • B.A. in Psychology
      • B.S. in Legal Studies
      • B.S. in Business Administration / Accounting
      • B.S. in Finance
      • B.S. in Management / Entrepreneurship
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
      • A.S. in Legal Studies
      • A.S. in Management
      • A.S. in Accounting
      • A.S. in Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
      • Master of Project Management
      • Master of Finance
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Master - Human Resource Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Human Services
      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Project Management
      • BS - Marketing
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
      • BS - Business Management
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Accounting
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

Featured Schools

Trident University

  • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
  • Professional Studies (ASPS)
  • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing

What is your highest level of education completed?

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Bachelor of Science - Software Development

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

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
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

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?

Liberty University

  • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA: Communication
  • MS: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Post University

  • B.S. in Business Administration
  • B.A. in Psychology
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • A.S. in Legal Studies

Education Level: