Public Health Inspector

For many, a good job means more than just great pay and good job stability. Knowing that you’re helping the public in general is important as well and can offer some personal satisfaction that other jobs won’t have. One career path that could provide just that is that of the public health inspector.

Along with above average pay, various professional benefits, and excellent job growth potential, the public health inspector also enjoys knowing that they are doing all they can to help improve the health of the public in one way or another. They may work in a variety of settings and have a number of responsibilities, but in all instances they’ll be serving the public health. If you think that a job aas a public health inspector is right for you, keep reading to learn more about this rewarding position.

What Is a Public Health Inspector?

A public health inspector is just what it sounds like – a professional who inspects public establishments or areas to ensure that they meet all local, state, and federal health laws. By regularly inspecting these places and enforcing health mandates they are able to prevent infection and illness and better improve the overall health and safety of the public.

In most instances, people think of a public health inspector as working in the food industry, conducting inspections of restaurants to ensure they meet health codes. But these professionals often inspect a variety of other locations including:

  • Swimming Pools
  • Nursing Homes
  • Motels and Hotels
  • Youth Camps
  • Housing Facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Medical Facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Bars and Pubs

They have a variety of responsibilities, and their knowledge of the public health code has saved lives and helped lead to the identification of the source of numerous outbreaks large and small.

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Working as a public health inspector requires a very specific skill set, and having a few personal qualities can help ensure that the job is even easier for one to perform. Strength in the following areas is crucial for success in the field.

  • Strong Memory – There are many health codes in place for public facilities. While it’s not often required to memorize them all, a good knowledge of the majority of codes will help tremendously.
  • Good Investigative Skills – Daily routines involve investigating different locations, and having a keen eye for investigation will come in handy during daily activities.
  • Honesty – Public health inspectors work to maintain the health of entire population areas, and as such they need to be able to be honest and unbiased when they conduct inspections of any facility.
  • People Skills – Since public health inspectors regularly enter different places of employment, being able to talk to others and engage with them is important. On occasion, tempers can flare and it’s important that a public health inspector be able to still conduct their job during these moments.

Nature of the Work

A public health inspector will spend most of their day doing primary and follow up inspections in different public locations. They will travel from location to location and then inspect each thoroughly to ensure that they meet all sanitation and health codes. In some states the inspector awards a sanitation grade that tells consumers what level of sanitation the business has reached. In other cases they may impose violations on the business if serious infractions are found.

Inspectors will prepare highly detailed reports on each of their inspections, file and maintain those reports, and re-evaluate problem businesses to check that they have improved. Health inspectors will also find that they have to testify at hearings on occasion, particularly if an establishment’s violations were found during their inspections. Most inspectors work for government agencies, though some jobs in the private sector exist.

Education and Training

The education requirements for public health inspectors vary from state to state. Usually a bachelor’s degree in occupational health will be needed, though some positions may require a master’s degree in a related field be held. Certification from boards such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals can help improve one’s ability to find a good job.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists that the average salary for those in this field is about $66,790 annually. However, job growth is slightly slower than the national average at about 7% over the next decade.


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