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A health inspector is a trained professional who can perform many different types of jobs and work in a variety of environments. Many jobs available are those through government agencies (municipal, state or federal) that involve assessing safety of workplaces both for employees and for consumers that might use them and/or purchase any product produced by a workplace. A second set of work opportunities is available in the form of private consultancies. A number of companies hire a health inspector consultant to make sure that the company complies with all laws governing safe work environment or to get advice from the consultant on how to increase worker safety.
Under most circumstances the health inspector has trained for his/her job by getting an undergraduate degree. Two majors that may be considered are biology or chemistry, but another major growing in popularity is occupational health and safety. The person who wants to become an inspector must also study and be able to pass tests on municipal, state or federal standards that would apply in a specific work area. A person inspecting restaurants, for instance, would have to be able to identify compliance with health and safety standards, and those primarily working in the areas of worker safety at a factory, would need to know all guidelines for worker safety and safe handling of hazardous materials. Since these guidelines periodically change, the health inspector is likely to require continuing education to understand the changes.
The consultant health inspector may work alone or for a consultancy company, and could have areas of specialization. He or she will travel to companies that require consultancy and thoroughly inspect an environment to make sure it meets minimum standards for safety. If it doesn’t, the consultant prepares a list of changes that need to be made. Many companies now go this route, because they would rather make changes before any form of government health inspector discovers problems and initiates any action, such as demanding changes or levying fines.
From a business prospective, the government health inspector may be somewhat feared; however from employee and customer perspectives, inspectors help people feel safer. Many companies must routinely undergo health inspection, and depending on the company’s status, it may have to make changes right away so a workplace environment is safer or is complying with safe handling and disposal laws. Those employed as health inspectors by the government can thus expect they won’t always be greeted with enthusiasm. People who undertake this work are better off if they can easily take rejection and still maintain a cheerful manner.
It is really not the inspector’s job in most circumstances to “bust” companies. Instead they are there to help businesses comply with laws. Unless a company repeatedly ignores citations to change aspects of its business, the relationship between health inspector and company doesn’t have to be adversarial. Instead the inspector and business can work cooperatively to make certain that the business complies with all health and safety laws.
If I am majoring in sociology and minoring in health care social issues at a four year university, would I have to apply to a graduate school that would prepare me for the field of public health inspection?