How to Become a Food and Drug Inspector

How to Become a Food and Drug Inspector: Career Path Guide

To become a food and drug inspector, you need to begin by determining if this career is a good fit for you; asking yourself a few questions may help.


Are you interested in a career that allows you to help ensure public health by keeping dangerous foods off the shelves? Are you interested in a career that allows you to conduct work in the office as well as in the field? Would working closely with other professionals in your field appeal to you? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be well suited for a career as a food and drug inspector.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a food and drug inspector. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Food and Drug Inspector

To become a food and drug inspector working in an entry-level position, most employers will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as public health, biology, chemistry, human ecology or similar fields (requirements will vary by employer). In order to advance to mid-level and senior-level positions, candidates typically need to have a certain amount of work experience, a graduate level degree or a combination of the two, as determined by the employer.




Food and Drug Inspector Job Description

Food and drug inspectors are responsible for inspecting establishments where foods, drugs, and similar consumer items are manufactured, handled, stored, or sold to enforce legal standards of sanitation, purity, and grading. Food and drug inspectors may work in the inspection of food and drug products produced domestically, or they may work in the inspection of food and drug products that are produced internationally.



Food and Drug Inspector Job Duties

• Organize visits to specified manufacturing and packaging facilities

• Investigate the conditions and hygiene habits of manufacturing and packaging personnel

• Prohibit the sale of impure, damaged, toxic or misbranded items

• Obtain evidence for prosecuting violators by interviewing employees, consumers, distributors and vendors

• Ensure that manufacturers posses all necessary licenses and permits

• Provide recommendations to senior management regarding changes in facilities and practices

• Analyze and interpret the results of nutritional and health related testing

• Prepare reports based on facility inspections



Food and Drug Inspector Salary

The salary level of food and drug inspectors may vary depending on many factors, such as their level of education, their level of experience and many others.


Food and Drug Inspector Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Inspectors in Public and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety occupational group, which includes food and drug inspectors, earn an average wage of $37.10 per hour.


Food and Drug Inspector Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Occupational Health and Safety Specialists occupational group is $64,660 per year.



Work Experience Needed to Become a Food and Drug Inspector

Although it may not be mandatory, many employers in the field of food and drug safety prefer hiring candidates who have work experience. Working an internship, co-op or practicum position can be a great way to gain in-field experience as a student. Speak with your professors or your school’s career services office in order to get information on such opportunities. Working an entry-level job for an organization involved in the production, adulteration, or representation of food or drug products is a great way to gain experience in this field while you are a student, or after you have graduated. 





Work Environment of Food and Drug Inspectors

Work Conditions: Food and drug inspectors spend a large amount of their time travelling to food production and related facilities in order to conduct inspections and meet with management. This portion of their work may involve being exposed to strenuous, dangerous or stressful conditions. They typically use safety gloves, helmets and other safety equipment in order to reduce their risk of injury while working.


Work Schedule: Food and drug inspectors typically work normal, weekday working hours on a full-time basis. Some inspectors may be required to work evenings, weekends or other irregular hours in order to perform certain work functions, or to travel home from visiting a facility or region. 



Who Hires Food and Drug Inspectors?

The federal government is the primary employer of food and drug inspectors in Canada and the United States, as food and drug safety is a public concern and administered by the government. However there are other organizations that employ the skills, knowledge and competencies of these professionals. Organizations that hire food and drug inspectors include:


• Regional, provincial/state and national government departments

• Non-governmental organizations interested in food hygiene or food sanitation and drug safety

• Lobbyist groups



Food & Drug Inspector Jobs

Our job board below has "Food & Drug Inspector" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Careers Similar to Food and Drug Inspector

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of a food and drug inspector, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Food Safety Auditor

Industrial Hygienist

Quality Control Specialist

Water Quality Analyst



References: How to Become a Food and Drug Inspector

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a food and drug inspector.


Alberta Learning and Information Service website:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration website:



Scholarships for Becoming a Food and Drug Inspector

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Food and Drug Inspector can be found on the following pages:


Biochemistry Scholarships

Biology Scholarships

Chemistry Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Food and Drug Inspector: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a food and drug inspector. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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