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How to Become an OSHA Inspector
Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspectors protect workers by identifying unsafe working conditions and practices and by helping companies develop better safety protocols and training programs. Inspector specialties span a wide range, from biochemical hazards to the safety of office workers.
Choose the Specific Inspector Path
OSHA has three inspector career tracks: industrial hygienists, safety engineers and safety and occupational health specialists. All three types of inspectors visit private and public facilities to inspect their compliance with federal health and safety laws. The industrial hygienists also provide advice and assistance regarding environmental issues such as noise, biohazards and dangerous chemicals. Safety engineers review proposed designs, methods and procedures and provide advice regarding technical compliance with health and safety laws. Safety and occupational health specialists focus on employee comfort, including ventilation, lighting and equipment. They also may conduct safety and emergency preparedness training.
Get Relevant Education and Work Experience
To qualify for a job as an OSHA inspector, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to health and safety standards, such as biology, engineering, chemistry or occupational health. Coursework or training in related specialties, such as hazardous materials handling, respiratory protection or risk communications, will make you a more attractive candidate. A working knowledge of federal health and safety laws and regulations is essential. Though not required, previous work experience as a health or safety professional will make you a more credible candidate and may help you to be hired at a higher rank, with a higher salary.
Pursue Additional Training or Certification
Certification is not required to be hired as an OSHA inspector, but it will make you stand out against other candidates. For most certification programs, such as certified industrial hygienist or certified associate industrial hygienist, you will need a relevant college degree and at least some work experience. Some OSHA certification courses – for example, Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry and Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry – are open to nonemployees.
To get started with the application process, you must identify a specific inspector vacancy for which you wish to apply. You can search either the website of the Department of Labor – OSHA’s parent agency – or the USAJOBS website, which carries vacancies for most federal government departments and agencies. In either case, the system will guide you through the process of creating a profile and answering questions specific to the vacancy you select. Attach your resume and other applicable documents, such as a cover letter, proof of certification or transcripts and, once you have reviewed your submission, click “Finish.”
- U.S. Department of Labor: Major Occupation Categories at DOL
- Public Safety Degrees: OSHA and Occupational Safety and Health Careers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
- U.S. Department of Labor: Using DOORS and USAJOBS: A Help Guide
- OSHA.com: Environmental Courses
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Occupational Health and Safety Specialists Do
A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.