How to become an Agricultural Inspector. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Agricultural Inspector do?
Agricultural inspectors work for a variety of agencies, and are responsible for monitoring standards and enforcing regulations in agriculture, particularly on farms.
As a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, you would be concerned with occupational health and safety. You would visit premises to:
- check machinery, the environment and buildings
- investigate accidents and complaints
- make sure regulations are being followed
- write reports and make recommendations.
You would also sometimes give evidence in court cases.
As a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) inspector, you would enforce UK and EU legislation. You would:
- collect and analyse data
- issue certificates
- plan for the prevention, control and eradication of animal and poultry disease.
As a food assurance scheme inspector, you would check that agricultural practice meets the Assured Food Standards (known as the Red Tractor). Before granting certification and a seal of approval you would:
- inspect the health and welfare of livestock
- check animal feed
- make sure livestock housing is safe and of a suitable size
- check animal identification and veterinary treatments.
You would usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, possibly with some extra hours depending on the particular job.
Although you would be office-based, the job involves frequent travel – you would spend at least half of your time visiting workplaces. There may be occasional overnight stays away from home.
How much does an Agricultural Inspector earn?
Inspectors can earn between £21,000 and over £39,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You would usually need at least A levels or equivalent qualifications, and at least two years’ relevant work experience. For some jobs you would need a degree or equivalent professional qualification. Check the websites of the HSE, DEFRA and Assured Food Standards for details.
To work in a specialist inspectorate, you may need relevant industry qualifications. For example, for the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate a certificate in competency to act as an officer on a merchant ship or a mate of a fishing vessel or an equivalent naval qualification is useful.
Training and Development
You would usually have a two-year training period, the first year of which is probationary. You would receive practical on-the-job training and attend short in-house courses. You would develop your skills by at first accompanying and observing experienced inspectors, then carrying out supervised site visits.
You may be able to work towards NVQ Level 4 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice, or study for a postgraduate qualification in Occupational Health and Safety.
As an inspector, you would need to keep your knowledge of the technical and legal aspects of the job up to date, for example by attending short courses.
Skills and Knowledge
- knowledge and experience of agriculture
- good observational and problem solving skills
- impartiality and consistency
- up-to-date knowledge of relevant laws
- sound judgement
- good written and spoken communication skills
- IT skills.
Vacancies are advertised in the national press and on employers’ websites.
Once you have several years’ experience, you could progress to a senior position, or work as a consultant in occupational health, giving advice and lecturing. You could also move into public health or conservation.