Agricultural Inspector

Job Description:

Agricultural inspectors make sure animal welfare and health and safety regulations are followed on farms, in dairies and other agricultural workplaces.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

You’ll make sure food is safe and of a high quality by checking farms, businesses and food processing plants.

In the UK, for example, you could work for agencies like:

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Assured Food Standards

If you work for the HSE, you’ll check occupational health and safety regulations are being followed.

Your day-to-day duties 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’ll make sure UK and EU laws are being followed.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • collecting and analysing data
  • checking record keeping on farms
  • investigating animal welfare concerns
  • planning the control and prevention of animal and poultry disease

If you’re a food assurance scheme inspector, you’ll check agricultural practice meets the Assured Food Standards, known as the Red Tractor scheme.

Your day-to-day duties could include checking:

  • the health and welfare of livestock
    crop management and production methods
  • the environmental impact of farming techniques
  • animal feed
  • livestock shelters are safe and the right size
  • animal identification and veterinary treatments
  • record keeping and documentation


You’ll need:

  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations – tact and diplomacy
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to analyse quality or performance
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • observation and problem-solving skills
  • Agricultural Inspectors need to be highly observant and detail-oriented during inspections.
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an Agricultural Inspector, you’ll need a combination of education, skills, and training rather than specific GCSE subjects. However, certain subjects and skills developed during your GCSE years can be advantageous for pursuing further education and a career in this field such as:

  1. Science: Subjects like Biology and Chemistry can provide you with a foundational understanding of agricultural principles, including plant biology, soil science, and pest control.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are useful for conducting measurements, data analysis, and record-keeping in agricultural inspections.
  3. Environmental Science: While not typically offered at the GCSE level, environmental science can help you understand the ecological aspects of agriculture and its impact on the environment.
  4. Geography: Geography can provide insights into the geographical factors that affect agriculture, including climate, soil types, and land use.
  5. English: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential for documenting inspection findings, preparing reports, and communicating with agricultural producers.

Further Education

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly

Apply to an accredited university or college to pursue a relevant degree, such as:

  • Agriculture,
  • Environmental Science
  • Food Safety.

Alternatively, you may consider specialized courses in agricultural inspection and regulation.

In the UK, for example, the following courses may help you to work towards this role:

  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Agriculture
  • Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Agriculture

Direct Application
To apply directly to become an agricultural inspector, in the UK you’ll usually need A levels or equivalent and at least 2 years’ relevant work experience, for example as an agricultural machine operator.

A professional qualification in health and safety would also be useful, for example a course offered through NEBOSH or IOSH.

Career tips
You’re most likely to find jobs with a government-related agency, in the UK this would be, for instance:

  • Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Heath and Safety Executive
  • Red Tractor scheme

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may need to work outside of these hours depending on the job.

You’ll be based in an office, but you’ll spend at least half of your time visiting workplaces.

You may sometimes stay away from home.

Conditions on visits can sometimes be noisy and dirty.

You’ll sometimes need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to a management role, or work as a consultant in occupational health.

You could move into public health or conservation work.