Food safety auditors have recently come into high demand all over the country. The increased emphasis on food safety has even extended to expanded federal regulations. Because of those strict guidelines, the number of food safety auditors continues to increase. Jobs with this high level of importance can lead to productive and lucrative careers with an ample amount of job stability for years to come. Now is an opportune time to get in on a budding industry as a food safety auditor.
Food Safety Auditor Education
In order to become a Food Safety Auditor, a bachelor’s degree is required. There is no single major that is required, although an aspiring food safety auditor should hold a degree in a field related to this particular line of work. Mostly every Food Safety Auditor position lists a bachelor’s degree as one of the mandatory requirements for employment. Below is a list of undergraduate majors that would qualify individuals for a career as a Food Safety Auditor:
- Food Science
- Environmental Health
- Food Technology
There are also public health majors available and eve ones that offer specializations in environmental health. The most important aspect of the undergraduate education is developing an extensive understanding of the correlation between human health and environmental dangers. This includes a detailed concentration on public health as well as environmental science. There is also an emphasis on manufacturing and farming to gain a firm understanding of how food is processed and delivered.
Undergraduate programs of this nature are referred to as a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Science. These programs typically require the completion of an internship as well. This allows individuals to get hands-on experience, whether it be at a food manufacturing facility, research lab or other related settings.
A Master’s Degree of Health Science is an option for those who want to elevate their careers as a food safety auditor. There are various distinctions of this degree, although the most popular option is Environmental Health. This ongoing education is sometimes taken in conjunction with the acquisition of a job as a food safety auditor. There are also doctorate options available under the Environmental Health or Public Health distinctions. These advanced degrees can lead to positions of high authority in the food safety industry.
Part of the education of a food safety auditor also comes after a degree is earned. Food safety auditors must accumulate a significant amount of work experience before being considered for a food safety auditor position. This work experience also counts towards becoming certified by one of the industry organizations entrusted with that responsibility.
Food Safety Auditor License and Certification
There is no state board that handles the licensing of food safety Auditors. However, certifications are extremely important in this industry. In order to attain any food safety auditor position, certifications are a requirement. There are certifications that are pretty much considered a prerequisite to work as a food safety auditor and they are as follows:
- CFSSA (Certified in Food Safety Supplier Audits) – This credential is offered through the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and certifies food safety auditors to conduct first and second party audits. A Bachelor’s Degree is required, along with three years of experience in the industry. Applicants must also demonstrate adequate HAACP training.
- RFSA (Registered Food Safety Auditor) – This NEHA credential certifies food safety auditors to conduct third-party audits. A CFSSA credential must be earned before applying for an RFSA credential.
Each of these certifications requires a high level of industry knowledge. Subject Matter Experts (SME) have put together a comprehensive exam that tests common knowledge of food safety audits to a high degree. Obtaining either of these certifications indicates that individuals already have a sufficient amount of experience in food safety. Other certifications from the NEHA include a CP-FS (Certified Professional – Food Safety) as well as an REHS (Registered Environmental Health Specialist).
Food Safety Auditor Job Description and Skills
The primary role of a food safety auditor is to conduct food safety audits. This ensures quality control among foods of all types. A food safety auditor could be tasked with the responsibility of checking the food safety of a manufacturing facility and could also be entrusted with the same role on a farm that produces food for public consumption. This requires an extensive knowledge of the current food safety regulations as well as a detailed knowledge of the guidelines set forth by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The goal of an audit is to ensure that a facility is complying with every industry regulation.
Food safety auditors must also create written reports of their findings. This requires a precise attention to detail. It also requires food safety auditors to be highly skilled in their documentation and report writing. The job even calls for the audit of daily reports, which means that a food safety auditor is not going to spend the entire day inspecting a facility. In fact, a great deal of their time is spent analyzing reports.
Food safety auditors may also be asked to provide instruction on food safety practices. As a result, a lot of food safety auditors travel quite a bit as part of their work duties. Some positions require travel from one facility to another in what can be a jam-packed schedule. Food safety auditors may find themselves auditing the following locations:
- Food packaging centers
- Meat packing plant
- Retail food establishments
A food safety auditor must also have experience. It is not a job that individuals can walk right into straight out of college. The reason for this is that food safety auditors must be well-versed in safety regulations, which can be rather extensive. There are even instances when food safety auditors partner with the local Health Departments. Food safety auditors may also be called into situations where there is an emergency or immediate need for some type of audit.
Any facility that handles food for sale or distribution must follow a food safety system, which has come to be known as the HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). This covers seven specific areas of food safety and is used internationally. Food safety auditors refer to these seven principles on a daily basis and are extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the HAACP.
Food Safety Auditor Salary
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies food safety auditors as belonging to the larger group known as Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians. The average salary for that group is $69,370 annually. There was a further breakdown of that group as safety specialists earn an annual salary of $73,020 while safety technicians earn an average of $50,780 per year. Food safety auditors would be classified as specialists, bringing their average annual salary towards that higher amount.
There is the opportunity to earn more than those averages and one of the most influential factors is place of employment. Senior food safety auditors can earn handsome salaries. The ZipRecruiter website estimates that the top three percent of food safety auditors earn an average annual salary of $140,500. And since food safety auditors may spend a good deal of time traveling, those living expenses are often paid for by their respective companies. This can allow overall income to be even higher than the specified amount of yearly pay.
In 2016, the United States Federal Government finalized what has become known as the Food Safety Modernization Act. This Act catapulted the food safety auditor job into high demand. Because so many facilities were suddenly required to undertake audits by second and third parties, there was a need for more a lot more food safety auditors. That has translated into many new jobs across the entire country in what has become a vital part of food safety.
The BLS reports that there are a little more than 100,000 Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians throughout the United States. There is also expected to be an 8% increase in those jobs by the year 2026. Because of the high demand placed on food safety auditors, the number of that demographic is expected to increase beyond the 8% projection. That translates into a career that is brimming with opportunity for prospective food safety auditors.