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Certified Public Health Inspector Certification Requirements

Certification for public health inspectors is not required by law, but is required by many employers. Agencies that certify public health inspectors include the American Board of Industrial Hygiene and the National Environmental Health Association.

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Certification by The American Board of Industrial Hygiene

The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) requires a bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry chemical engineering, sanitary engineering, mechanical engineering or biology. A program in industrial hygiene or safety is also acceptable if it is accredited by The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Decision on completion of educational requirements is made based on the science courses listed on an applicant's transcript, in which social science courses are not counted for credit. A minimum of two hours of course work in ethics is also required.

ABIH also requires at least four years professional experience in the field. This means that the work must be relatively autonomous and self-directed, involve significant data gathering and analysis, interaction with decision-makers, and responsibility for work outcome. Experience as a technician or pre-professional is not considered.

It is also required that one have practiced 'broad scope' industrial hygiene. This involves working with at least two of the four stressors: ergonomical, biological, chemical and physical. Candidates also need work experience in multiple environments and functions.

Applicants must also provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation. These and an application fee of $150 are needed to qualify for the exam. The exam itself costs another $350. The examination is given in spring and fall, and the application deadlines are February 1 and August 1, respectively.

Certification by the National Environmental Health Association

The National Environmental Health Association offers two relevant certifications: Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) and Certified Professional of Food Safety (CFP).

For both certifications, candidates may apply as 'in training' and have three years to garner the necessary experience.

To apply, individuals must send the completed application, a copy of her or his university transcript, copies of past certifications (if needed), and the necessary application fees. For non-members, the fee is $85 to apply and $235 for the exam itself. The test is offered once a year, or can be taken by computer via Pearson VUE for an additional $100. Sixty-eight percent of questions need to be answered correctly to pass certification.

Retention of certification requires completion of the following every two years: at least 24 credit hours of continuing education and a renewal fee of $265 for non-members or $125 for members.

Certified Professional of Food Safety Requirements

The CFP certification requites a degree in environmental health or food science that is accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council. Any bachelor's degree and two years of experience in the field will also suffice, as will lower credentials combined with greater experience and passage of any of several food safety exams: Certified Professional Food Manager, ServSafe, Supersafe or Food Safety Managers Certification Examination.

Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian Requirements

The REHS/RS certification requires a bachelor's degree or higher in environmental heath, or a bachelor's degree in any area with at least one course in algebra or higher mathematics and 30 semester credit hours or 45 quarter credit hours in basic science plus a minimum of two years of experience in environmental health.

Salary Stats and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2012, job positions for occupational health and safety specialists are expected to increase by 9% between 2010 and 2020. This is slower than the national average for all careers. As of November 2013, Payscale.com reports that annual median salaries for public health inspectors generally fall between approximately $27,000 and $45,000.

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