Food Inspector Apprenticeship Programs
FSIS invests in transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans via its Apprenticeship Programs. FSIS offers a 2-phased approach to a career in the Federal civilian workforce through its 4-week Pre-Apprenticeship Program for transitioning Servicemembers and 12-month paid Apprenticeship Program designed exclusively for Veterans. These Apprenticeship Programs provide highly skilled training that places Servicemembers on a glide path for growth and development and a career in the Federal civilian workforce.
THE PRE-APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
The Pre-Apprenticeship Programs service transitioning Servicemembers who are within 180 days of release from active duty. With Command approval, participants receive 4 weeks of training as a Food Inspector. Training will be conducted at establishments located within 50 miles of the Servicemember’s military post/base. Pre-Apprentices who successfully complete the Program and honorably separate from military service will be offered an opportunity to participate in the paid 12-month Apprenticeship Program AND receive credit for the 4-week training period served as a Pre-Apprentice.
THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
After successful completion of the Pre-Apprenticeship Program, Veterans will receive a Temporary Appointment as a GS-5 Step 1 in the 12-month paid Apprenticeship Program. The FSIS Apprenticeship Program is approved for the training of Veterans under programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans may be entitled to education benefits through their GI Bill® or other education benefits when participating in the FSIS Apprenticeship Program. After successful completion of the paid 12-month Program, Apprentices will receive an Appointment under Veteran Recruitment Authority (VRA) as a GS-7 Step 1. The rate for GS employees varies by geographical location. Please find your pay rate here (General Schedule Pay Chart).
WHAT LOCATIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Pre-Apprentices will perform their duties at establishments located within a 50-mile radius of their military duty station. Duty location for Apprentices varies. We have establishments located nationwide, so Apprentices will be placed based on location availability. We will make every effort to place Apprentices at locations of their choice.
WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF A FOOD INSPECTOR APPRENTICE?
The incumbent serves as a trainee in a slaughter plant and receives training in the objectives, methods and techniques of meat and/or poultry slaughter inspection. Apprentices receive a combination of on-the-job training and organized instruction in areas such as ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection of meat and poultry slaughter. Instruction is also provided on the provisions of slaughter inspection laws, regulations and procedures. Training includes the techniques of inspection of live animals and poultry and how to detect abnormalities that render meat and poultry unfit for human consumption. Apprentices will examine food animals in privately-owned meat or poultry plants before and after slaughter guaranteeing that the product is not contaminated and ensuring that sanitation procedures are maintained. As training progresses the incumbent may be assigned to another plant where he or she will assists in carrying out the inspection function under a veterinarian or food inspector of a higher grade.
Check out the many faces of food inspectors and learn more about a day in the life of a food inspector who works for us section.
Qualifications and Eligibility
Apprenticeship Program Eligibility (VRA Eligibility)
- Disabled veterans; or
- Veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or
- Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded; or
- Recently separated veterans.
- Service members within 120 days of being separated can be considered with statement of service in accordance with Veteran’s Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act. Veterans will need to provide a DD214 showing they separated under honorable conditions before entering on duty.
Veterans claiming eligibility on the basis of service in a campaign or expedition for which a medal was awarded must be in receipt of the campaign badge or medal.
In addition to meeting the criteria above, eligible veterans must have been separated under honorable conditions (i.e., the individual must have received either an honorable or general discharge).
Conditions of Employment
- U.S. Citizenship required.
- Male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must complete a Pre-Employment Certification Statement for Selective Service Registration.
- If selected, you may be subject to a background investigation and be asked to provide fingerprints.
- Direct Deposit - Per Public Law 104-134 every Federal employee is required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of that employee's choosing.
- Successful completion of a pre-employment medical examination.
The duties of a Food Inspector are performed in a hazardous work environment. To experience what it's like to work in a slaughter plant as a Food Inspector, please click here. The below requirements are not an all-inclusive list. Failure to fully meet a functional requirement is not automatically disqualifying.
- Be physically and medically able to efficiently perform the essential job functions, without being a direct threat to themselves and others.
- Have full range of motion to perform rapid repetitive twisting and working with arms above shoulder level.
- Be able to stand and walk on slippery and uneven floors and catwalks, and climb stairs and ladders.
- Be able to lift, carry, push and pull up to 30 pounds, with occasional lifting of up to 50 pounds.
- Have manual dexterity of the upper body, including arms, hands, and fingers with a normal sense of touch in both hands.
- Have good near and distance vision, be free of chronic eye disease and have correctable vision of at least 20/40 in one eye.
- Have the ability to distinguish shades of color. Any significant degree of color blindness (more than 25 percent error rate on approved color plate test) may be disqualifying.
- Individuals with some hearing loss and/or requiring hearing amplification will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Food Inspector Qualifications – GS-05 level
Applicants must have one year (52 weeks) of specialized experience that was obtained after your 16th birthday. Qualifying specialized experience must demonstrate the applicant's knowledge, judgment, interpretive ability, and technical skill associated with the production of a finished product which meets all prescribed standards of quality and conforms with approved production methods. Such experience may have been gained in the following:
Experience in a slaughter or processing plant, or a comparable manufacturing or production activity which prepares food for human consumption. This experience must demonstrate skills in sorting good from bad; applying, interpreting, and explaining standards, making decisions, and communicating with others.
Experience as a meat cutter/butcher in a wholesale or retail meat/poultry business, provided a full range of responsible duties are performed such as cutting or butchering, sanitation, dealing with customers, meeting customer standards, use of judgment, interpretation or various requirements, and sorting acceptable from unacceptable.
Quality control or laboratory analytical experience in the food industry or other similar production environments. An example of qualifying experience may be a Veterinary Technician conducting lab tests, assessing animals and/or partial examination of animals, performing necropsies, monitoring animals under anesthesia and administering medications.
Supervisory responsibilities in the food or livestock industry, which demonstrates the applicant applied and has effective skills in communicating job requirements, evaluating results of work methods or processes, applying instructions, and interpreting standards or regulations. Responsibility for management or supervision of a full scale commercial or industrial livestock or poultry enterprise.
Commercial restaurant or kitchen chef or cook responsible for proper food preparation, safe food handling and sanitation practices and judgment recognizing abnormalities in food.
Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study leading to a bachelor's degree in an accredited college or university that included at least 12 semester hours in biological, physical, mathematical, or agricultural sciences. If you are qualifying based on education, you must submit a copy of your transcripts when you apply; failure to do so will result in an ineligible rating. If you are selected for a position, official transcripts must be sent directly from your college, in paper form in a sealed envelope or in a secure, certified official electronic format to our Minneapolis Human Resource Operations Division prior to reporting for duty.
Consumer Safety Inspector Qualifications – GS-05 level
At least 52 weeks of qualifying experience gained under close supervision that provided you with knowledge of the properties and characteristics of regulated food commodities and substances, such as: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or other food for human consumption, and other ingestible substances, such as pharmaceuticals. This experience should include several or all of the following: Skill in applying proper techniques for collecting samples and performing field tests and examinations, skill in developing written reports and reporting findings or results orally, and skill in maintaining effective personal contacts with a variety of individuals. Such experience may have been acquired in work such as consumer safety inspector or inspection aid, food inspector, public health inspector, quality inspection specialist, or similar position with responsibility for sampling, quality control and sanitation in a food manufacturing or production environment, or similar environment for other ingestible items.
Successful completion of a full 4 year course of study leading to a bachelor's degree with major study or at least 24 semester hours/credits in any combination of coursework in the areas of: agricultural, biological, or physical sciences, food technology, epidemiology, home economics, pharmacy, engineering, or nutrition. Specialized government or military training may be creditable if it is related directly to this position.
A combination of education and specialized experience. In this instance, only education in excess of the first 60 semester hours of a course of study leading to a bachelor's degree (with some related coursework, as described in number 2 above) is creditable towards meeting the requirements, along with specialized work experience. The combination must equal 100% of the requirement. For example, if you have 33% of the education requirement, then you will need 67% of the specialized experience requirement.
HOW DO I APPLY?
What is the purpose of the FSIS Food Inspector Apprenticeship Programs?
The programs’ goal is to provide vocational opportunity for Veterans and Servicemembers who soon will be leaving the military and to help those Veterans establish a career with FSIS and protect public health.
What is the Food Inspector Pre-Apprenticeship Program?
The Food Inspector Pre-Apprenticeship Program is a 4-week non-paid opportunity for Veterans who will soon be leaving the military. The program allows participants to become familiar with FSIS inspection processes. It is a gateway to a paid opportunity. Those who successfully complete this brief 4-week program will be offered a position in the FSIS Food Inspector Apprenticeship Program.
What is the Food Inspector Apprenticeship Program?
The Food Inspector Apprenticeship Program is a 12-month paid opportunity at the GS-5 Step 1 level for Veterans who have successfully completed the Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This is a temporary appointment. Participants are placed into a Food Inspector position and receive on-the-job training.
Why does FSIS hire apprentices on a temporary appointment?
This is a short-term program not to exceed 12 months. A temporary appointment is appropriate. After successful completion of the Apprenticeship Program, FSIS will noncompetitively place selected participants at the GS-7 level through temporary appointing authorities.
What would I do as an FSIS Food Inspector?
FSIS Food Inspectors work in private commercial slaughtering plants. They provide the first line of defense against diseased and adulterated meat and poultry. They are responsible for much of the day-to-day in-plant inspection of animals before and after slaughter.
Am I eligible for this program?
Eligibility for the program is based on the Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) authority, an excepted authority that allows agencies to appoint eligible Veterans without competition under certain conditions. Veterans must be in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition, be a disabled veteran, be in receipt of an Armed Forces Service Medal, or be recently separated (within the last 3 years) under honorable conditions.
Are there other requirements for this program?
All appointments in the Federal Service require some level of background investigation, screening or security clearance. In addition, participants must meet qualification requirements and other conditions of employment.
Are there any other conditions of employment?
Those in the program must successfully complete training to remain in the position. In addition, these positions require successful completion of a pre-employment medical examination. The duties are performed in a hazardous working environment. Food Inspectors must be physically and medically able to efficiently perform the essential job functions, with or without accommodation.
What kind of benefits would I receive while in the FSIS Food Inspector Apprenticeship Program?
Apprentices are eligible for a limited benefits package. Full-time employees earn 13 days of paid vacation per year for the first 3 years of employment, and earn 13 days of sick leave each year.
Is the Apprenticeship Program approved to train Veterans under programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs?
Yes, the Apprenticeship Program is approved for the training of Veterans and other eligible persons under programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You may be entitled to benefits through your GI Bill® or other education benefits when participating in the 12-month Apprenticeship program.
What happens after I complete one year in the FSIS Food Inspector Apprenticeship Program?
After successful completion of the program, FSIS managers will offer the temporary GS-5 Food Inspector apprentices a non-temporary GS-7 Food Inspector position. Apprentices will have the opportunity to accept or decline the employment offer.
What kind of benefits will I receive if I am eventually converted to a full-time, permanent position?
Full-time, permanent employees receive a more robust benefits package that may include retirement benefits, life insurance, health insurance, long-term care insurance, flexible spending accounts and other work/life programs and policies designed to benefit employers and employees.
I’m interested. What are my next steps?
Contact Ms. Shonda Moore at Shonda.Moore@usda.gov or 202-720-7250.