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How Do I Become a Public Health Inspector?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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Health inspectors investigate places and things to make sure they comply with public health laws. The work might entail inspecting food, restaurants, houses, pools, nursing homes, and day care centers. To become a public health inspector, you will generally need a college degree and internship experience.

In some places, if local laws allow, people do become health inspectors as a result of getting a high school diploma, three years of supervised inspection experience, and passing the necessary certification exam. Granted, this is not a typical scenario. More likely, it will be necessary to get a college degree if you want to become a public health inspector.

Getting a college degree in food science, water chemistry, or public and environmental health can be helpful if you want to become a public health inspector. These undergraduate majors are very science-intensive and very competitive. While in college, you will need to get good grades because a high grade point average (GPA) is what will convince prospective employers that you have the observational skills, analytical skills and learning skills to succeed as a public health inspector.

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During college, it can also be helpful to do an internship if you want to become a public health inspector. The internship can be a public health-related internship that is in a local public health department, in a local business, or with the government. Most likely, the career services department at your college can help you to find an internship. Or, you could conduct an online search for a public health internship. Getting internship experience can be important because internship experience will supplement your classroom learning and give you supervised real-world experience that will prepare you for a job after college.

In addition to having the necessary academic training, it is helpful to have tact and sensitivity while also being very firm and determined if you want to become a public health inspector. This particular combination of personality traits is difficult to have; however, if you have these characteristics, it can help you on the job. For example, public health inspectors have to have enough tact and sensitivity to get all of the necessary information about a potential public health hazard while they also must be very firm and determined in enforcing the law. They must be willing to recommend that a building or a business should be closed if the place does not meet health standards.

Pursuit of a career as a public health inspector can lead to various types of other positions. For instance, public health inspectors could go back to school to get a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in industrial hygiene, food science, chemistry, or environmental health so they can pursue careers as public health supervisors. Or, they could pursue college teaching. They could become safety advocates who bring attention to issues impacting the public safety. Or, public health inspectors could pursue writing careers as columnists or as book authors who write books to educate the public on safety issues.

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