Food Technologist: Salary and Career Facts

A food technologist works in the food science field, assisting in research and analysis to help increase food safety, extend its shelf life and improve its production processes. Read more about the job duties for this position, as well as the required education, career outlook and salary potential. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Food Technologist?

Sometimes referred to as food scientists, food technologists conduct research to measure the quality of food production. They apply their findings to create ways of improving productivity, efficiency, sustenance, safety and processing in distribution and crops. They often work independently and lead other groups of technicians. Part of their goal is to make sure food processing meets government regulations.

The chart below may offer important information containing details to becoming a food technologist or scientist.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Food technology, food science
Key Duties Researching, analyzing food products, working to improve productivity and processes related to food and crops
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%* (food scientists and technologists)
Median Salary (2015) $65,840* (food scientists and technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Might My Job Duties Be as a Food Technologist?

As a food technologist, you'll apply the principles of food science to food research and production. Food science involves the study of food with regards to its chemistry, biology and physical composition. You'll most likely work in a food processing lab, university or government agency.

Your work will include extensive research and analysis, working hands-on with food samples. Your goals can vary widely based on your employer or project. For example, you may analyze a food to determine its composition so that it can be accurately labeled with its fat content, vitamin, carbohydrate and other elemental constituents. Alternatively, you might work to improve processing techniques, such as canning, pasteurizing or baking.

What is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 14,660 food technologists and scientists in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The broader field of agricultural and food scientists, which also includes animal, soil and plant scientists, was expected to grow 5% between 2014 and 2024.

This career outlook is strengthened by numerous factors, such as the public's increasing concerned about food safety. This includes not only safety practices in food production, but also mitigating the threat of bioterrorism in the food industry. Additionally, as biotechnology and nanotechnology progress, skills in putting these advances to good and safe use in food production are expected to be in high demand.

What is My Possible Salary?

As of May 2015, the BLS reported that median annual wages were $65,840 for food technologists and scientists. As you enter the field, you may earn closer to the bottom ten percent of the field, who earned $36,940 or less at that time. The top ten percent earned over $100,000 per year.

What Types of Degree Programs are Available?

You can study food technology at any degree level, from associate to doctoral-level programs. These degrees are offered in food technology or food science. Undergraduate degrees prepare you for an entry-level career as a food technologist. You'll typically spend time in both the classroom and laboratory, learning to analyze various food types and understand methods of processing.

Master's degrees can help you to expand your expertise, advance in your career or transition into food technology after pursuing another field while an undergraduate. Doctoral programs enable you to conduct advanced research, pursuing an area of interest at the highest level of study.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers include biological technicians, conservation scientists/foresters and environmental scientists/specialists. Biological technicians assist scientists with executing experiments by setting up and cleaning equipment, preparing samples and documenting work. Conservation scientists and foresters are concerned with land and natural resource maintenance and quality. Environmental scientists/specialists conduct research to find ways to prevent and eliminate environmental issues, such as pollution.

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