Derek Penman will succeed George Graham to become the independent inspector of constabulary of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.
Mr Penman was appointed Assistant Chief Constable for Police Scotland with responsibility for north Scotlamnd in January last year. he had previously been Temporary Chief Constable for the Central Scotland force.
He has 30 years' experience with the police service, having joined Central Scotland Police in 1984.
Mr Penman said: "I am delighted to be taking on the role of Her Majesty's Inspectorate Of Constabulary and leading in a way that provides reassurance to our communities."
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "I have no doubt he will prove a vital asset in driving forward the continued improvement we expect from Police Scotland."
The appointment, which begins on Friday, is for three years.