The Food and Drug Administration enforces quality control and regulates the introduction of new drugs and food products into the market. It does so through a rigorous system of inspections on research processes and documentation, and continues the inspection by regulating and inspecting food and drug packaging, labeling, transportation and distribution practices, with the aim of ensuring all foods and drugs approved for sale in the United States are safe to ingest. FDA inspectors' salaries are based on the federal service system pay scale.
Federal Pay System Overview
All FDA employees are federal employees, and, as such, they earn a salary based on the civil service pay schedule published each year by the Office of Personnel Management. There are 15 pay grades within the federal service system, and each pay grade consists of 10 "steps."
FDA Inspector Salary Range
The FDA typically recruits applicants for consumer safety officer positions, or inspectors, starting at the pay grade GS-5 and going up to GS-11. This translates into a minimum base salary of $34,414 per year for a GS-5, Step 1 employee, and as high as $82,019 for a GS-11, Step 10 employee. Experienced inspectors may be pulled from field duty and assigned to FDA headquarters, where they may be compensated at the GS-13 level.
In addition to their base salary, FDA inspectors also receive locality pay, which increases their salary depending on cost-of-living factors in the area where they work. FDA inspectors assigned to the New York City area, for instance, earn $35,309 at Grade Five, Step One; in Dallas, Texas, the same level is paid $33,101; and, in Richmond, Virginia, the inspector would earn $31,949.
In addition to base pay and locality pay adjustments, FDA officials receive a heavily subsidized health insurance program; the opportunity to contribute to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which is a defined contribution pension plan for federal employees; and access to a federal defined benefit pension, for which they can qualify in many cases after 20 years of federal service.