Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Sanitarian Job Description

careertrend article image
Viktor_Gladkov/iStock/Getty Images

Sanitarians conduct routine inspections of business environments in the public and private sectors to make sure they comply with health, safety and environmental regulations on the local, state and federal level. These professionals also work to detect, prevent and resolve health issues in workplaces, industrial producers, food preparation facilities and other environments.

Job Requirements

Sanitarians investigate health and safety in business environments, working to enforce safety and health regulations and identify risk factors. People aspiring to work in this field should possess analytical thinking, observation, communication and leadership skills. Environmental health job descriptions call for candidates who can work independently with minimal to no supervision, and who possess an excellent sense of ethics and reliability.

They should also hold a bachelor's degree in an engineering or science field and, ideally, prior work experience. Some prospective sanitarians earn their master's in public health and hygiene, as well. Pursuing a master's degree can lead to significant career advancement benefits. Typical required coursework for sanitarians includes chemistry, biology, safety and sanitation and microbiology and pathology.

Most employers require candidates to attend and pass training courses form their state's department of public health. Some may also require sanitarian candidates to hold licensure or certification, depending on the state. Professionals can obtain these credentials through state board examinations, and they usually have to renew their license or certification through continuing education hours.

Sanitarian Responsibilities

Professional sanitarians can expect to perform the following tasks in their daily jobs:

  • Observe employee conduct in facilities to ensure they are working to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Educate the public and individuals on methods to reduce contamination.
  • Develop protocols to maintain public and industrial hygiene standards.
  • Enforce existing health regulations in community practices.
  • Monitor the disposal and handling of waste in environments such as hospitals, businesses and the public sector.
  • Inspecting personal practices and equipment.
  • Conducting interviews with the public regarding waste disposal and hygienic habits.

The sanitarian profession often calls for travel to different locations, at which workers must inspect sanitation levels and procedures. These professionals often approve and file licenses, as well.

Sanitarians spend some of their time collecting data in field observation, and they may also work in office environments, as well. In-office, sanitarians work to assess information they gathered in the field to determine the potential long-term consequences of current behaviors. They outline these findings in written reports and develop preventative strategies accordingly, which they may teach on a public level.

Earning Potential

Sanitarians earn a median annual wage of $42,183, according to PayScale. This breaks down to $18.48 per hour. Sanitarians in the 90th percentile on the earning scale make up to $73,000 annually, while those in the lowest 10th percentile make approximately $28,000 each year. Entry-level professionals in this field typically earn just over $35,000 per year, but by late-career – after more than 20 years of experience – they usually make more than $60,000 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8 percent job growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians between 2016 and 2026, which is on a par with the national average growth rate.


Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

Photo Credits

Viktor_Gladkov/iStock/Getty Images