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How to Become an FDA Inspector

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The federal government is the nation's largest employer, with numerous agencies impacting nearly all areas of American life. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for food sanitation and drug standards. If you are a seeking stable career and the thought of working for the government appeals to you, then you may wish to consider a career as an FDA inspector. FDA inspectors ensure that companies providing drugs or foods to American consumers meet all safety and sanitation regulations.

Obtain a college degree in an area like chemistry or pharmaceutical medicine. This is not only beneficial to your work with the FDA, but is also necessary to meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the civil service examination — the first step to any government employment, according to the FDA. Stiff competition for FDA inspector jobs exists, so you should gain as much education in these fields as possible to help give your application an edge. The FDA requires that you have a minimum of a bachelor's degree with 30 hours in areas like biological science, nutrition and food technology, along with the coursework in pharmaceutics and chemistry.

Take additional coursework in computer programming and statistics. The FDA will allow you to substitute up to eight credit hours in these fields as part of the 30-hour minimum requirement in the sciences.

Obtain experience working in the food inspection industry. You need not work for the FDA to work as a food inspector. Food manufacturing companies utilize quality control managers all the time to ensure their products meet FDA guidelines. Apply for positions with some of the major food manufacturers like General Mills or Kraft to gain necessary hands-on experience. You can apply for positions with smaller manufacturers as well, as long as you receive training relevant to the job.

Indicate you are willing to relocate. Consider where you would like to work. The FDA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but has offices in every major city throughout the U.S. Willingness to relocate is a virtual necessity to land employment as an FDA inspector.

Submit your application to the FDA through the U.S. government's official job website, This is where all available FDA inspector jobs will appear. When openings occur, follow the online instructions for submitting your application. Be prepared to upload a cover letter and resume. Once you have been selected as a potential candidate, you may be contacted for an interview.


Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.