Approximately 17,700 agricultural inspectors, including horticultural inspectors, are employed in the United States. The federal government employs the majority of inspectors in certain areas, such as food and agriculture, which fall under the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (in its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Consumer safety is evenly divided between local government and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Applicants may enter the occupations by applying to take the appropriate civil service examinations. Education in specific areas may be required. Some positions require a degree or other form of training. Others need considerable on-the-job experience in the field.
The civil service commissions for state and local employment will provide information on health and regulatory inspection positions under their jurisdiction. The federal government provides information on available jobs at local offices of the employment service, at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (http://www.opm.gov) and USAJobs (https://www.usajobs.gov). The specific agency concerned with a job area can also be contacted.
Advancement for horticultural inspectors in the federal government is based on the civil service promotion and salary structure. Advancement is automatic, usually at one-year intervals, for those people whose work is satisfactory. Additional education may also contribute to advancement to supervisory positions.
Advancements for horticultural inspectors in state and local government and in private industry are often similar to those offered at the federal level.
Tips for Entry
Read about the work of agricultural inspectors while you are in school and talk to your career counselor.
Visit botanical gardens or local farms to supplement botany or agricultural studies.
Meet with a horticultural inspector for an information interview or speak with a nursery or agricultural business owner about inspections.
Research local and federal laws and regulations regarding horticulture.
Visit http://nationalplantboard.org/job-announcements and https://www.usajobs.gov for job listings.