Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Public Health Inspector


Ever had food poisoning? It's terrible. And more common than you think. Some health inspectors argue that there is no such thing as the classic 24-hour flu. Chances are you don't have the flu, you're suffering from food poisoning.

Food poisoning is caused by food that has been allowed to grow bacteria, been invaded by insects, or spoiled in some way. A slaughterhouse can contaminate meat in the shipping process, a restaurant can leave the milk out, a well can grow mold, a skating rink can become overrun with rodents. Public health inspectors try and prevent these things from occurring. They educate new business owners and company administrators about health and safety, and help them establish a plan of action to ensure their business doesn't start dishing out poison along with the pasta.

Public health inspectors also complete follow-up visits to businesses and restaurants, to ensure that the plans are being followed. Sometimes they act on complaints, and investigate offices, restaurants, and other facilities for trouble. They will make recommendations if they find faults, and if the changes aren't made by the next visit, fines or even closures, will be enforced.

Public health inspectors need to be tough. Because a stomach ache isn't all that you risk; you could die. Poorly maintained public wells, leaking septic systems, and contaminated pools can kill you, just as a dirty glass can affect you fatally. While it is rare, the odd server who forgets to wash their hands after the bathroom may be handing you more than just water in that tumbler.

That said, public health inspectors do a lot to protect us from such fates. Using advanced testing equipment they take samples of well, ocean, and lake water as well as food to check for dangerous substances. They use equipment to investigate septic systems and solid waste sites. Some even look into noise pollution complaints. Often, they will host public information sessions and speak to the media about health precautions.

They do everything in their power to save lives, educate the public, and keep us safe from food poisoning, air pollution, and water contamination. So the next time you run into a public health inspector, why don't you offer to take her out to dinner? Although, you'd better let her choose the restaurant...
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Advanced Care Paramedic
arrow Anesthesiologists
arrow Animal Care Worker
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Argosy University
Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.
Programs Offered:
  • Public Health (MPH)



  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a public health inspector? You need to be tactful, sensitive, and understanding, as well as firm and dedicated. You should be good at problem-solving and decision-making. You should enjoy working in a structured environment, with established rules and guidelines, but also comfortable working on your own. You should be interested in science, as well as community service. You should have an inquisitive mind, be observant, methodical, and don't mind snooping around. You should be able to work well under pressure and stress.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Inspect commercial, industrial and public places
  • Inspect and monitor food safety in food premises
  • Write up reports for each visit
  • Take legal action when necessary
  • Take samples from sites to test for environmental pollution
  • Host workshops and talks to discus public health matters
  • Make proposals to governments, small business associations, and corporations about adjustments to their work place
  • The typical day for a health inspector will involve a lot of inspecting. They travel throughout their communities, assessing all sorts of environments, from popular picnic spots to huge food preparation facilities. Health inspectors also host talks and workshops for those interested in public health and safety. They meet many people, including small business owners, high-powered executives, and everyone in between.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Public health inspectors spend much of their time on the road, traveling throughout their communities to food processing plants and slaughterhouses, waste disposal centers, hotels and motels, long term care facilities, hospitals, offices, wells, septic tanks, public pools, beaches, schools, bars, dance clubs, restaurants....Health inspectors see it all.
  • When they are not on inspections, they are in their offices, writing up reports, setting up scheduled appointments, and taking questions from the public. Their hours are usually regular, unless there is an outbreak of some illness and a number of complaints are lodged with the office. Some may have to go out at night if inspecting a nightclub or a restaurant. They usually work alone, for health agencies, or are on staff with a food processing plant.
  • The job may involve exposure to hazardous materials and infections, so it is important to be safety-conscious in this line of work. As well, the people found in violation of health codes are often angry, so it is important to be alert at all times.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Public health inspectors can move up the ranks to supervisory or administrative positions within their department. They can become teachers or professors, taking their expertise to students. They can apply their knowledge to public health nursing, become politicians, environmental advocates, or open an extremely clean restaurant. Some may even choose to write health and safety manuals for businesses, or articles and books on health and safety for the general public.

  Educational Paths  
Public health inspectors are required to have completed either a community college diploma or a university degree in public and environmental health, food sciences, or water chemistry. Once you have the education, you will be trained for six months in the field, and then must pass a set of exams.

If you are interested in this career, a good idea is to find work in a restaurant. This will give you a good view of what goes on behind the scenes, and you'll learn all the dos and don'ts of restaurant life.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Argosy University  Online
Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.
Programs Offered:
  • Public Health (MPH)
Campus Locations:
  • San Diego, CA

University of Management and Technology  Online

University of Management & Technology

Committed to Building Futures

UMT is highly respected by Fortune 500 companies and US military and veteran’s community!

UMT Online degree and certificate programs allow you to study at anytime, anywhere using any device!

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice Administration
  • Master of Public Administration in Public Administration
  • Master of Health Administration
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • , VA

University of Arizona  Online

Located in the breathtaking Sonoran desert of southern Arizona and within an international border region, The University of Arizona is consistently ranked as a top public research university, offering graduate degrees in more than one hundred fields and is widely recognized for its cutting-edge research and innovation.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Health Online
Campus Locations:
  • Tucson, AZ

South University, Online Programs  Online

Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Health
  • Public Administration: General (MPA)
  • Healthcare Management (BS)
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • Savannah, GA

University of Southern California  Online

One of the world's leading private research institutions, the University of Southern California (USC) was founded in 1880.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Public Administration
Campus Locations:
  • Los Angeles, CA

Bryan University  Online

Go above and beyond typical online classes with Bryan University. GO

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Health
Campus Locations:
  • , AZ

US Colleges  Online

U.S. Colleges has been helping students enhance their career skills since 1996.


Programs Offered:
  • Phlebotomy Advanced 20 Hours
  • Phlebotomy Technician I
Campus Locations:
  • San Marcos, CA

Liberty University  Online

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Public Health Global Health
  • CERT: Public Administration
  • CERT: Healthcare Management
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • Lynchburg, VA

California College San Diego  Online

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

Programs Offered:
  • Healthcare Administration (BS)
Campus Locations:
  • San Marcos, CA

Platt College  Online
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
Programs Offered:
  • Healthcare Management
Campus Locations:
  • Riverside, CA

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2016 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.