CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 28, 2014
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How to Become an Agricultural Inspector in the US

Many people are seeking stable, exciting jobs to make them their career choice. The agriculture industry provides plenty of such jobs. You can join this industry as an agriculture inspector if you like working with animals and agricultural produce. To prepare you for this career, you should know the duties, the wages you will earn and the qualities you need to do the job satisfactorily.

What Does an Agricultural Inspector Do?

Agriculture inspectors perform the following tasks:

  • Ensuring producers and handlers of agricultural produce comply with local safety and health regulations regarding procedures, goods and equipment
  • Inspecting meat at processing facilities to ensure meat safety
  • Checking the quality of shipments entering or leaving the country at border crossings and ports
  • Collecting samples from livestock and agricultural products
  • Sending samples to laboratories for testing
  • Inspecting personnel handling agricultural products
  • Compiling reports on findings
  • Drafting health recommendations to growers, farmers or authoritative bodies
  • Auditing operations meet the safety and health standards

Qualifications

Before you can be employed as an agriculture inspector, you need to acquire the necessary qualifications. The following qualifications will be useful when looking for the job.

  • Many employers require a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. They may also accept a degree in a closely related field of study
  • Some employers may admit college coursework in agricultural science and biology in the absence of a bachelor’s degree. However, such courses should go with relevant work experience
  • Others accept a high school diploma with some experience
  • Training in specific laws, regulations and procedures governing the industry

Useful Skills

You may find the following skills useful in your career as an agricultural inspector:

  • Excellent grasp of regulations
  • Investigatory skills to detect non-compliance with government regulations
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent reading and writing ability
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Very good math skills

Salary

In May 2012, the median salary for agricultural inspectors was $42,460. The table below illustrates states with the highest employment level in this occupation:

Entry Level

$30,370

Mid Career

$37,450

Successful

$48,510

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Work Environment

Considering such salary rates, being an agricultural inspector seems to have many rewards. However, not everything is as rosy as it seems. This job demands long hours of work. Most of the work will be done while standing. You will have to travel long distances to remote places where farms and agricultural centers are located. In addition, you will handle materials and substances some people may consider filthy. The possibility of handling contaminated substances while collecting samples is high. The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) and State Government (OES Designation) departments absorb the highest number of employees within the industry.

Career Prospects

The job prospects for agriculture inspectors between 2010 and 2020 have been projected to remain stable. According to these projections, you will get more employment opportunities with federal and state governments. You are also more likely to land a job as an agricultural inspector in agricultural states, such as Idaho and Nebraska.

With plenty of jobs waiting to be filled, you will find it easy to become an agricultural inspector.

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