Agricultural Inspector: Job Description & Requirements
Learn about a career as an agriculture inspector. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.
Agriculture inspectors ensure that agricultural entities comply with government regulations. These workers may review and audit logging, fishing or farming operations to ensure that all procedures, goods and equipment comply with safety and health regulations. They are the individuals responsible for ensuring meat safety and often inspect meat at meat-processing facilities. Agriculture inspectors also may check the quality of shipments before they leave or enter the country at ports and border crossings. Day-to-day duties include the collection of samples from animals, plants or products, the transportation of such samples to labs for testing, the inspection of personnel working in contact with agricultural products, the writing of reports on their findings at a particular site and the drafting of applicable health recommendations to farmers, growers or authoritative bodies.
Specific experience and educational requirements may vary by employer; however, there are basically two ways to become an agriculture inspector. One approach is to earn a bachelor's degree in agricultural science or a closely related field of study. Alternatively, relevant work experience combined with some college coursework, including courses in agricultural science and biology, can be substituted for a bachelor's degree. Before beginning with any employer, the agriculture inspector must undergo training to become versed in specific laws, regulations and procedures governing the agricultural industry. According to O*Net Online in 2010, 36% of responding agriculture inspectors held a bachelor's degree, while another 36% held a high school diploma or equivalent.
O*Net Online reported that agricultural inspectors needed the following qualities:
- Strong grasp of regulatory standards of the field
- Investigatory skills to uncover if an operation has complied with government regulations
- Attention to detail when recording information
- Ability to read and write very well
- Excellent communication and math skills
- Fluency in Spanish may be helpful
Employment and Salary Outlook
The BLS noted that the employment outlook for agriculture inspectors should remain stable. Most employment opportunities in the agricultural field were found with federal and state governments. Agricultural states like Idaho and Nebraska hire more agriculture inspectors than do other states. Specific job titles in the agricultural inspection industry include health inspector, food inspector, compliance analyst and consumer safety officer. According to O*Net Online, there should be little to no growth for agriculture inspectors between 2010 and 2020. The median salary for these workers in May 2012 was $42,460, per the BLS.
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