Food is not always safe to consume; foods that have been improperly produced, stored, packaged, or handled may harbor disease-causing agents that can make people sick. The job of a food inspector is to ensure that food is grown, made or prepared according to safety and sanitation guidelines to prevent illness and adhere to a minimum quality standard. Food inspectors typically make about $17 to $20 per hour as of 2011.
According to the Salary website, the compensation of all food inspectors ranged from $26,275 to $58,296 in June, 2011. In terms of an hourly rate, this is a range of $12.63 to $28.03. Another source, the SimplyHired website, reports that the average for all food inspectors was $38,000, or roughly $18.27 per hour.
Agricultural Food Inspectors
Agricultural inspectors are those involved in the initial stages of food production. They often inspect farm operations, slaughter houses and similar facilities. The typical hourly pay for an inspector in this category was $20.36 in 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assuming 40 hours per week, this gives an annual salary of $42,340 per year. Pay ranged from $24,050 to $60,990 per year.
Manufacturing inspectors are primarily concerned with how foods are packaged, distributed and stored, although some inspectors in this category also are concerned with the texture, taste, color and size of the food product. The Bureau of Labor Statistics thus categorizes them as "inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers." In this category, the average compensation for 2010 was $17.09 hourly, or $35,550 per year. These food inspectors made anywhere from $20,140 to $55,570 in 2010.
Depending on the category in which a food inspector falls, his salary may be anywhere from $20,000 to $61,000. An inspector with at least some experience should expect a salary somewhere between $35,000 and $42,000. In general, agricultural food inspectors make more than manufacturing food inspectors. Additionally, agricultural food inspectors' wages rose 0.6 percent between 2009 and 2010, compared to 0.3 percent for manufacturing inspectors.