Agricultural and food industries employ research technicians, inspectors, scientists and product development directors. While some of these careers only require an associate's degree, others demand the knowledge and experience gained through a bachelor's degree.
People interested in working in the food technology field typically need an associate's degree in applied science in food technology, but bachelor's and other advanced degrees may be necessary for some positions. Students may choose to supplement their education with analytical and math classes to earn an advantage in the job market. Some positions, such as food inspector jobs, may require certification, while others may only require the two-year degree and work experience.
|Careers||Agricultural and Food Research Technician||Food Inspector and Food Product Development Director|
|Required Education||Associate's degree||Bachelor's Degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5%||5%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$36,480||$65,840|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Careers in food technology typically deal with the quality of food before it reaches the consumer market. People in this field may wish to pursue jobs as food research technicians, who test food products for nutritional value and preservatives, or work with regulations of the Food and Drug Administration. Others may prefer a career in food inspection, ensuring that food that reaches the public is safe for consumption by running tests on both packaging and the food itself. Another option is to become a food product development director, a position which works to develop new food products or technologies to help preserve and package food.
Food Research Technician
A food research technician administers tests on food products. These individuals may test things such as preservatives, color, nutritional value and texture of food. A food research technician may also work closely with regulations set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These professionals work in lab settings and may be part of a larger team of food technology scientists.
An Associate of Applied Science in Food Technology is a typical starting point for a prospective food research technician. This is a 2-year program that is found in many technical colleges and trade school in the U.S. Candidates vying for a food technology career may also need good analytical and math skills. In order to move past entry-level food technology positions, a bachelor's degree or advanced degree may be required.
Information supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 5% employment growth is expected for agricultural and food science technician jobs between 2014 and 2024. Agricultural and food science technicians earned a median annual salary of $36,480 as of May 2015, the BLS reports.
A food inspector, sometimes called a quality control inspector, makes sure food coming off manufacturing lines or in packaging won't cause illness or other side effects. Food inspectors may run tests on packaging or the food itself. These professionals also follow specific guidelines set by the FDA to keep consumers safe and healthy.
The BLS provides job growth and salary information for food scientists and technologists, whose duties include analyzing food processing and content. The most recent figures show that employment growth for these workers is predicted to reach 5% between 2014-2024, which is average compared to other occupations. Food scientists and technologists earned a median annual salary of $65,840 in 2014.
Food inspectors have different qualifications depending on their industry or their amount of responsibilities. A bachelor's degree in food science or packaging science may be required for a job in food inspection, though some jobs only require industry experience. Requirements specific to food inspecting may also include additional certifications, such as those offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
Food Product Development Director Job Description
Food product development directors, also known as food scientists, work to develop new food products and ways to package or preserve food. Sometimes these professionals discover entirely new food sources or determine correct levels of fats, vitamins and food additives. Food product developers work closely with the FDA's regulations determining everything from new canning techniques to improved food waste management.
The salary and employment growth figures outlined for food inspectors would be applicable to this job title.
Product development directors and food scientists typically specialize in an area of food chemistry, microbiology, food engineering or toxicology. These positions often require advanced degrees, such as a master's degree or Ph.D. in food technology, packaging science or agricultural science.
Jobs in food science can expect fairly average growth over the next decade. Positions may also open up from retirement of older agricultural and food scientists.