What Do Food Scientists and Technologists Do?
Food scientists and technologists are essential to the production of safer foods, improved preservatives and more effective food processing methods. They are highly specialized workers that use a broad range of scientific principles to analyze different types of food and determine the best practices for how food should be packaged and consumed. This includes determining the content of certain food, researching and developing ways to make food less harmful and establishing techniques for the packaging and preservation of food.An annual growth of 11% is expected in this field across the nation, which results in roughly 850 job openings per year. This is in line with the national average projected job growth across all occupations, so job prospects for food scientists and technologists appear to be good.
Food Scientists and Technologists Skills and Abilities
People who excel at this position will need a strong background in the sciences, including chemistry, microbiology and engineering. An understanding of how food is produced and commonly used processing techniques are key components to being successful at this job. Comprehension skills will be important in order to understand data and information, and communication skills will be necessary to present one’s findings. Logic and reasoning skills will also play a vital part in identifying solutions to problems and coming up with new approaches. Food scientists and technologists also require the ability to work independently and to pay close attention to detail.
Food Scientists and Technologists Duties
Food scientists and technologists study foods in both their raw and processed states and evaluate their nutritional value, color, flavor and texture. They work with other scientists, engineers and manufacturers to evaluate the best ways to process and store food. Specific activities food scientists and technologists may do include:
- Researching methods to improve food products
- Experimenting with new types of foods and preservatives
- Testing food products for harmful bacteria
- Ensuring that food processing and manufacturing conforms with government and regulatory standards
- Evaluating new technologies and methods
- Inspecting areas to make sure they comply with sanitation standards
- Developing new and environmentally friendly packaging for food
Food Scientists and Technologists Tools and Technology
Food scientists and technologists use a wide variety of tools in the course of their job. Cooking ranges, food processing equipment and crushing machinery are used to manipulate food. Laboratory equipment such as microscopes and heat exchange condensers are also used. In addition to specialized analytical or scientific software, standard office programs such as spreadsheets and word processors may be utilized.
Education and Training for Food Scientists and Technologists
A bachelor’s degree is usually required to obtain a position in this field. Generally, no previous work experience or on-the-job training are necessary since having an educational background in food science or a related field is the most important factor in being hired. Approximately 38% of food scientists and technologists in the country have a master’s degree or doctoral degree.
Food Scientists and Technologists Salary
The median worker in this position earns an annual salary of $61,500, while the lowest 10% of earners make $35,200 and the highest 10% earn as much as $107,800. Therefore, the earning potential is high considering the job does not require an advanced degree.
Food Scientists and Technologists Jobs by Geography
The states with most workers in this field are California, Texas and Minnesota. The most growth over the next few years is expected to be in Texas, Arkansas and New York. The top earning employees can be found in Minnesota, Louisiana and the District of Columbia. Therefore, Minnesota may be a good place to concentrate a job search since there are many positions there and food scientists and technologists make more money there than anywhere else in the country.