Should I Become a Food Labeling Technologist?
Food labeling technologists ensure that information on food labels, including product ingredients, allergens and nutrition facts, complies with governmental and company rules. These professionals usually work in comfortable, climate controlled areas when they examine labeled food products. If their duties include inspecting food products as they are packaged, they might have to spend time in a noisy processing facility. They also might be exposed to raw foods during tests to make sure food labels reflect correct nutritional values.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required by most employers; some companies may prefer a master's degree|
|Degree Field||Food science, nutrition science|
|Experience||Varies per position and employer; postsecondary training required|
|Key Skills||Problem solving; critical thinking; reasoning abilities; detail oriented, writing skills, familiarity with general computer applications such as Microsoft Office - spreadsheet software and word processing|
|Salary (2014)||$61,480 yearly (median for all food scientists and technologists)|
Sources: CareerBuilder.com job postings (November 2012), Indeed.com job postings (November 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Food labeling technologist positions generally require at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant major, such as food science, nutrition or a related science. Because food labeling technologists must ensure that food labels are in compliance with federal regulations, a degree program should include coursework focusing on industry guidelines and regulations such as those administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Food science majors take classes that may include food processing, food product research and development, and quality assurance. Examples of coursework within a nutrition science major include genetics, quantity food production and clinical nutrition.
- Complete an internship. By participating in an internship program, students can acquire some on-the-job work experience sought by potential employers. Aspiring food labeling technologists will have the opportunity to acquire valuable industry skills and knowledge that can be applied to a permanent position following graduation.
- Join a professional association. Membership within an organization such as the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) could be helpful for entry-level jobs and more advanced food technologist positions. The IFT gives members access to career information and job fairs that might be helpful in finding work. Members can also find job leads by participating in organizational meetings and conferences to network with other professionals in the field.
- Apply for a part-time, entry-level position. While still in college, students can gain a competitive edge by working part-time within an entry-level job in the food technology industry. The accrued time spent in a part-time job during the years that a student is completing a degree program satisfies most requirements for work experience sought by future employers.
Step 2: Consider Earning a Graduate Degree
For candidates already working within the food technology industry who want to enhance their prospects for career advancement to a higher-level position, a graduate degree can pave the way. Some employers prefer food labeling technologists who have a master's degree. In general, the same areas of study from an undergraduate program would be relevant in a master's degree program. However, some schools also have unique master's degree programs in food safety and technology or food process engineering that could be useful for prospective food labeling technologists.