Graduates of a master's degree program in food science can work several careers that involve various food sources or have applications to nutritional topics. Some of these careers are more research-oriented, while others may be more education-related. Here we look at a handful of these related careers for those with a master's degree in food science.
Related Careers for a Master's Degree in Food Science
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Food Scientists and Technologists||$62,920||5%|
|Dietitians and Nutritionists||$58,920||14%|
|Food Science Technician||$37,550||5%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Food Scientists and Technologists
Most graduates with a master's degree in food science will likely pursue a career as a food scientist or technologist, as most of these professionals pursue advanced degrees beyond their bachelor's degree to expand their knowledge in the field. These scientists have extensive knowledge in chemistry and biology that they use to study the basic elements and nutritional value of various kinds of food sources. They may research ways to make food production safer, find new food sources and figure out ways to find contaminants in foods. Many work to ensure that food production complies with current regulations and meets all standards.
As a biochemist, you will be responsible for conducting experiments and doing research on living things and the biological processes that they perform. In relation to agriculture, you may find a job researching ways to create new genetically modified organisms. These could take the form of food crops that have been genetically modified to resist a variety of environmental factors, such as certain pests, drought, extreme heat, or disease, or that have been modified to grow larger or more regular products. A master's degree could allow you to hold a number of entry-level positions, but a Ph.D. would be required for higher positions.
Dietitians and Nutritionists
A lot of dietitians and nutritionists hold an advanced degree, and a degree in food science may prove beneficial in helping these professionals understand the basic elements of foods and nutrition when working with their clients. Dietitians and nutritionists help clients manage their health through food by explaining proper nutrition and healthy eating habits. They may create educational material on the subject for their clients, help clients create meal plans and monitor a client's progress as they work toward a specific health goal. Some of these professionals may even speak to groups about various health topics related to food and nutrition.
Although it is a less obvious career choice, some microbiologists look at the effects of microorganisms in the environment and their impact on crops or how these microorganisms can be used in food production, like in the case of yeast. A background in food science would be highly beneficial to these microbiologists, and an undergraduate degree in microbiology is usually required; additionally, a master's degree may be required for more advanced positions in the field. Microbiologists often conduct their research experiments in a laboratory setting to identify these microorganisms and study how they interact with various environments. Their work must be carefully documented in scientific reports, which are available to the public and the scientific community.
Food Science Technician
A food science technician works alongside food scientists, assisting them with various duties ranging from general agricultural labor to chemical analysis of food products. Office-based tasks are a large component of this job, including the preparation of presentation material and the analysis of research data. Laboratory tasks are also common, however, including testing food samples and additives, determining ingredients and formulas, and performing quality control. While the minimum requirement for the job may often be an undergraduate degree, greater experience in the food science field is likely to make graduates with a master's degree more attractive candidates.
A background in food science can be applied to several careers in research and education. Graduates with a master's degree in the field can expect positive job growth in many of these careers, as well as a median salary over $50,000 (per the BLS).