Food Scientist: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for food scientists. Get the facts about salary, job duties, degree requirements and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Food Scientist?

Food scientists may ensure that food processing centers meet health guidelines, or they may do research to improve a food's taste while adding to its health benefits. They use chemistry, biology and more to study the elements of food. Food scientists study the nutritional value of food, look for new food sources, and try to make processed foods healthier. Some may even use nanotechnology to develop ways to find food contaminates. Food scientists will often need to communicate their findings to the public or other audiences through papers and presentations. Other information about this career can be found in the table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum
Education Field of Study Food science, agricultural sciences
Key Responsibilities Analyze the content of food for nutritional value, develop new products, inspect food processing facilities
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (for all food scientists and technologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $72,030 (for all food scientists and technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties as a Food Scientist?

As a food scientist, you draw from the fields of biology, microbiology, chemistry and engineering to look for better ways to select, preserve, process, package and distribute food products. Your expertise may be used to analyze both raw ingredients and finished goods, and your daily duties can vary based on your area of specialization. You can also experiment with new additives, substitutes and production processes to promote healthier food products. You may also inspect food processing centers to ensure that their facilities are up to standard.

Your professional expertise is not limited to increasing the nutritional value of food products, since you can also work on improving the appearance and taste of certain foods. You may work with engineers, production personnel and marketing experts to resolve any product development problems. Whether your position involves basic or applied research, promoting food safety is also an essential component of your job. As new food products and processing methods are developed, you may be relied on to ensure that no harmful agents are introduced to the ingredients being used.

What Is My Occupational Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for food scientists and technologists are expected to increase by 3% from 2014-2024, which is slightly slower-than-average compared to all occupations. This little bit of growth could be due to the need for increased food quantity and quality for an expanding population, as well as more public awareness about healthy eating habits. Advancing biotechnology and new food products may also contribute to the demand for food scientists. This profession had an average yearly salary of $72,030 as reported by the BLS in May 2015.

What Are My Educational Prerequisites?

Completing a Bachelor of Science in Food Science is typically your minimum requirement for entry-level food scientist positions. Your areas of study can include biochemistry, microbiology, food processing, nutrition, industry regulations and food safety. Many programs will also allow you to specialize in a food science category. A master's degree or Ph.D. may be required if you wish to teach or conduct research through universities.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers that require at least a bachelor's degree include those of microbiologists, environmental scientists and specialists, and biological technicians. Microbiologists study microorganisms, like bacteria, to see how they live and interact with their environment. Environmental scientists and specialists work to protect the environment and human health through natural science and policy. Biological technicians conduct experiments and lab tests, typically under the supervision of a medical or biological scientist.

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