Become a Fermentation Scientist: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 09, 2020

Learn how to become a fermentation scientist. Research the job description and the education requirements and find out how to start a career in fermentation science.

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Become a Fermentation Scientist

So you think you might like to become a fermentation scientist? Fermentation scientists, also known as zymologists, are food scientists who apply their knowledge of microorganisms to the processing of goods ranging from bread to wine. Chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences are all used to research, analyze, and develop new fermented foods and beverages. Those who work in product development will utilize food science research to improve selection, processing, preservation, and packing of these products. This work often takes place in very clean, well-lit offices, test-kitchens, and lab environments. There are frequent travel requirements associated with these jobs and field work may take place in noisy areas, like distilleries.

Career Requirements

So what are the career requirements?

Degree Level Employers look for someone with at least a bachelor's degree. Many employers look for someone with an advanced degree, like a master's or Ph.D.
Degree Field(s) Food science, microbiology, viticulture, or related field
Experience A degree in the right field can help you find the right job with little experience in the field
Certification Available but not always a requirement for a position
Key Skills Critical thinking, math, communication, and problem solving skills; ability to use lab equipment, scientific software, and office software
Salary $65,300 per year (median salary for food scientists and technologists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the basic requirement for most positions in the field of fermentation science. Students may look into majors such as food science, fermentation science, or viticulture, which combine academic studies of biological and chemical processes with practical skills in processing and developing products. Class topics may include biology of fermentation, brewing and malting science, food processing and preservation, and wine production and analysis.

Success Tip

  • Pursue an internship. Internships may be available for aspiring fermentation scientists, offering a chance to develop work-related skills. Students might also complete research projects, which can help them plan experiments, design new products, improve production processes, and modify products to reach new markets.

Step 2: Consider Graduate Studies or Certificate Programs

Additional schooling at the graduate level generally is necessary for research positions, and it can also help graduates enter more advanced positions. Certificate programs can prepare students to work in non-scientific roles in the brewing industry. College graduates can also enter a master's or Ph.D. program in food science and technology, microbiology, or fermentation science. Advanced degree programs generally allow students to choose a specialization or concentration, such as enology or brewing.

Step 3: Stay Current with Developments in Fermentation Science

As with most food sciences, fermentation science is an industry of innovation. Fermentation scientists may consider joining a professional organization, such as the Institute for Food Technologists, to network within the field and stay abreast of technological innovation.

Step 4: Advance Your Career

Fermentation scientists who have earned a degree or certificate and acquired work experience can advance their careers by focusing on fermentation design and scale-up and pursuing publication and patents. Assistant fermentation scientists may move up to the position of principal or senior fermentation scientist at a company. In the brewing industry, for example, a fermentation scientist can advance to managerial positions, like becoming head brewer or owning their own brewery.

Earn a bachelor's degree in fermentation science, consider an advanced degree, stay current in fermentation science, and advance your career are the steps to follow to make the most of a career as a fermentation scientist.

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