Food Science Master's Degree: Salary & Jobs

A master's degree program in food science prepares students with the necessary lab skills and knowledge of food and nutrition to work in several different professions. Find out about a few of these careers, their median salaries and expected job growth rates.

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Graduates of a master's degree program in food science can work in several careers that involve various food sources or have applications to nutritional topics. Some of these professions are more research-oriented, while others may be more education-related. Here we look at a handful of these possible 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 Scientist and Technologist $63,950 3%
Biochemist $82,180 (biochemists & biophysicists) 8% (biochemists & biophysicists)
Animal Scientist $60,330 7%
Microbiologist $66,850 4%
Agricultural Sciences Teacher, Postsecondary $91,580 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Career Descriptions

Food Scientist and Technologist

Many graduates with a master's degree in food science will likely enter a career as a food scientist or technologist, as a great deal 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.

Biochemist

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 typically be required for spots in research and development.

Animal Scientist

Animal scientists are primarily responsible for studying the nutritional and environmental requirements of domesticated animals for food production. A master's degree is likely to be the minimum level of education required for the position. You would be determining the nutritional requirements of animals and testing their health or the fitness of their environment, which might include issues of sanitation, disease, and possible parasitic infections. Additionally, you might look at the way agricultural practices affect these problems and develop new ways to manage domesticated animals that alleviate any potential issues.

Microbiologist

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, while a master's degree may be needed 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.

Agricultural Sciences Teacher, Postsecondary

Postsecondary teachers specializing in agricultural sciences may work closely with food and food-related educational topics. Some duties of these teachers include performing research in the food science field, leading research teams composed of students, presenting and documenting research, and staying up to date with advances in the field. You will also teach students, which will include activities like grading, developing syllabi, maintaining a healthy classroom environment, and assigning appropriate work to students. Most postsecondary institutions will require you to have earned at least a master's in order to be considered for employment.

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 $60,000 (per the BLS).

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