Sarah Parmor is originally from North Wales, and after going to University in Cardiff to study dentistry, she worked a...
- Work in the public sector ensuring health and safety standards are met
- Spend your days travelling to different agricultural settings
- You'll need good observation skills and good people skills
You'll make sure food is safe and of a high quality by checking farms, businesses and food processing plants. You’ll be responsible for monitoring and evaluating agricultural standards and ensuring that farmers are fully compliant at all times.
This could mean standards in health and safety, EU environmental legislation, animal welfare standards and farm assurance etc.
Your day-to-day duties will depend on where you work.
If you work for the Health and Safety Executive, your work could include:
- Checking machinery, buildings and the environment
- Investigating accidents and complaints
- Writing reports and making recommendations
- Giving evidence in court
If you work for DEFRA, or an agency on behalf of DEFRA, like the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), you might:
- Collect and analyse data
- Check record keeping on farms
- Investigate animal welfare concerns
- Plan the control and prevention of animal and poultry disease
If you're a food assurance scheme inspector, you'll:
- Check that producers are meeting the relevant standards
- Check on the health and welfare of livestock, crop management and production methods, and the environmental impact of farming techniques
- Make sure animal feed and livestock shelters are safe and the right size
- Check animal identification and veterinary treatments record keeping and documentation
You could work for agencies like the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); or a quality assurance scheme like 'Red Tractor'.
You would be based in an office, but at least half of the working week will be spent travelling to farms and factories and conducting inspections, which can be noisy and dirty, and you may require protective clothing.
Your normal work hours will be somewhere between 8am and 6pm although some out of hours work may be required.
This job would suit you if you have a strong interest in food and farming. You'll need to be thorough and pay attention to detail and you'll also need the ability to work well with others and stay calm and patient in stressful situations.
To get started you'll usually need A levels or equivalent, and at least 2 years' relevant work experience, for example in agricultural engineering or health and safety. A professional qualification in health and safety would also be useful, for example a course offered through NEBOSH or IOSH.
Some employers may ask for a degree or equivalent in a relevant subject like science, maths, engineering, or environmental health.
With experience, you could progress to a management role, or work as a consultant in occupational health. You could also move into more specialist areas such as public health or conservation work, which may improve your earning potential.