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Food Science Careers

Career Description

Food Scientists use chemistry, microbiology,  engineering, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, and protein; discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful; and apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, preserve, store, and distribute food.

Common Work Tasks

  • Usually work in the food processing industry,  universities, or the Federal Government to create and improve food products
  • Use their knowledge of chemistry, physics,  engineering, microbiology, biotechnology, and other sciences to develop new or better ways of preserving, processing, packaging, storing, and delivering foods
  • Engage in basic research, discovering new food sources; analyzing food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, or protein; or searching for substitutes for harmful or undesirable additives,  such as nitrites
  • Engage in applied research, finding ways to improve the content of food or to remove harmful additives
  • Develop ways to process, preserve, package, or store food according to industry and government regulations
  • Enforce government regulations, inspecting food processing areas and ensuring that sanitation, safety, quality, and waste management standards are met
  • Test new products for flavor, texture, color,  nutritional content, and adherence to government and industry standards
  • Check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing and finished products for safety, quality, and nutritional value

Other Job Titles

Food Scientists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Agricultural Scientists
  • Food Technologists
  • Infection Control Professionals
  • Animal Scientists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
Most food scientists need at least a master’s degree to work in basic or applied research, whereas a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some jobs in applied research or product development, or jobs in other occupations related to food science.

Experience
     
Food scientists should be able to work independently or as part of a team and be able to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing. Most of these scientists also need an understanding of basic business principles, the ability to apply statistical techniques, and the ability to use computers to analyze data and to control biological and chemical processing.

Salary

The median annual salary for a Food Scientist is $57,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $101,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of food scientists are:

  • Other Food Manufacturing- $64,470
  • Scientific Research and Development Services  - $71,990
  • Dairy Product Manufacturing - $49,690
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises - $77,750
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $61,070

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  10%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 1,200
  • Employment 2006 : 12,000
  • Employment 2016:  13,000
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