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Requirements to Become a Health Care Inspector

Health care inspectors, also known as health facilities surveyors and medical facilities inspectors, perform inspections for the licensing and certification of health care facilities. These can include nursing care centers, hospitals and mental health facilities. Inspectors ensure that adequate health care is being provided and determine whether the institution is in compliance with state and federal regulations. Requirements for becoming a health care inspector vary from state to state.

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Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Depending on the state, one can earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, social work or some other health-related field, such as medical technology, chemistry, physical science or biology. A degree in human services may also be an option, as well as public health, environmental health, health care administration, clinical nutrition and institutional management. A bachelor's degree can be obtained from a state or private university. The type of medical facility can also determine the type of degree required. For example, inspection of nursing care facilities may require a degree in nursing, while a social work degree may be needed to inspect mental health institutions. Again, qualifications vary, so understanding the hiring requirements for your prospective state of employment is essential.

Step 2: Obtain Appropriate Licensing

A number of states require licensing following graduation to be hired as a medical facilities inspector. Nursing graduates commonly need to gain licensing as a practicing nurse. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. These exams test nurses' knowledge, skills and competence in the field.

Some states may call for social work graduates to be licensed before employment as a health care inspector. The type of licensing may depend on whether one has an undergraduate or graduate degree. Various certifications or registrations may be essential as well for potential employees with a degree in a health-related field other than nursing.

Step 3: Gain Pertinent Work Experience

Some states require work experience; the amount of time varies. This experience should be appropriate for the type of facility one hopes to inspect, such as working in a nursing home, hospital or mental health facility. In some states, work experience may replace certain educational requirements.

Step 4: View the Job

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide information specifically for health care inspectors, the closely related field of occupational health and safety specialists was projected to see employment growth of 9% from 2010-2020. The mean annual wages of these workers in general medical and surgical hospitals were $65,620 in May 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics