How to become a food inspector

How to become a food inspector

Are you looking to enter the field of food safety?

If you are then you should consider becoming a food safety inspector. Food safety inspectors are responsible for providing independent inspections of wholesale and retail operations that physically manipulate food and look for good manufacturing practices, food hazards, developing company food safety manuals, determine vendor verification for health departments, and conduct special studies for the public and private agencies.

The salary range for food safety inspectors will depend on the type of agency hiring and the geographical location of the position, however, because of the training needed to qualify for such a position, you can expect to start at least the mid to upper $30,000. To get this kind of position you will need a combination of education, training, and work experience. Again the extent of experience in each category will depend on the hiring company.

The basic needs will be an undergraduate degree in a related field such as food safety, biology, chemistry, agriculture, etc. Advanced degrees will be preferred because of the nature of the types of inspection duties and the biological knowledge you will need to have to be successful in this field. Additional training can help augment your application. Many organizations offer food safety training.

Food safety training courses that are helpful are Train-the-Trainer Food Handling Class, HACCP Principles for Food Handling and Processing (Meat, Seafood, Sprouts, and Juice), Food Handling, and Food Safety for Managers and Food Safety Team Members in the Food Service Industry. These types of training courses can be taken via independent study or seminars and help to give you a basic understanding of what food safety inspectors will be looking for.

There are certification classes for food safety inspectors that will help you qualify for good-paying food safety inspector positions. To determine what classes and certifications that you will need, check out your state Bureau of Food and Meat Inspection, or the bureau in the state you want to get a job. The basic certification programs are food establishment inspection, food manager certification, water/ice programs, federal contracts/poultry, and egg grading, and hazards analysis critical control points (HACCP).

In addition to the certification programs provided by the state Bureau of Food and Meat Inspection, you can enroll in the USDA Inspection Training Program. This program is available at two levels: introductory and senior level. It is held at the USDA Fresh Products Branch Notional Inspectors Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA. Go to to download an inspection application.

Also at this website are other self-directed training programs in food safety inspection including PACA Guide, Food Safety Auditing Guidelines, and Questionnaire: Core Elements of Good Agriculture Practices for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, and Food Security Guidelines and Questionnaire for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

If you have the training and qualifications needed for being a food safety inspector, then it is time to submit your application to companies. One place to start looking is at a state and federal employment agency. Often these types of agencies have an online database that you can search through. Use keywords like food safety inspector, food safety management, inspector, health services, etc.

If you find a job title and description that interest you follow the application instructions. Other places to look for job openings are at food safety inspection firms. To find contact information try looking in the phone book or through Internet searches. Also, you can try looking at a job search website like Monster Board.


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