A bachelor's degree is required for a career as a food technologist working in product development or applied research. Those working in advanced research will need a master's or doctoral degree.
Food technologists have a strong background in the sciences and use their knowledge to create and improve food products. They also apply food science research to improve food safety, quality, storage, preservation, packaging, processing and distribution. A bachelor's degree in a relevant field, including classes like food chemistry and food engineering plus internship and research experiences, is generally required for employment. To find out more about the educational requirements and career information of food technologists, read on.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; graduate degree for some jobs|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||3% for food scientists and technologists|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$65,840 for food scientists and technologists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The education level required for food technologists depends on the area they work in. A bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for those in product development or applied research, while food technologists who conduct advanced research in academic or government facilities might need a master's or doctoral degree.
Undergraduate students majoring in food science typically take courses in food chemistry, microbiology, engineering, analysis and processing operations. Graduate programs usually combine classroom instruction, laboratory research and fieldwork. Graduate students conduct independent research and prepare a thesis or dissertation.
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Food technologists usually work in product development and ensure that food products meet government and industry standards for quality. They also ensure that food-processing areas comply with government regulations and meet standards for sanitation and waste management. If any issues are found, they notify packaging and marketing specialists, process engineers, plant operators or flavor experts to resolve problems.
Other job duties performed include checking the shelf life of ingredients, developing production specifications and food standards, conducting trials of new suppliers and ingredients, creating new food products based on consumer feedback, developing sanitary regulations and ensuring that printed materials meet legal guidelines. Food technologists also might answer questions relating to their food products, analyze the nutritional content of foods and manage product recalls. In addition, food technologists might engage in research for new food sources, substitutes for harmful ingredients, ways to improve food-processing techniques and ways to improve food content.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food scientist and technologist positions are expected to grow 3% from 2014-2024, which is slower than average compared to all other job sectors. Food scientists and technologists earned a median annual wage of $65,840 in May 2015, stated the BLS.
Food technologists need a deep understanding of the sciences. They ensure all food and food processing facilities meet government requirements. Food technologists may also be involved in determining regulations and evaluating new food products.