How would you like a job that pays well, allows you to put your scientific know-how toward the betterment of the nation’s food supply, and is part of an industry that offers great employment opportunities in a variety of specialties? If this sounds like something you could sink your teeth into, consider enrolling in school to become a food scientist.
Food scientists may work for a number of different entities, from universities to the Federal Government to the food processing industry. Drawing on their experience in multiple life and physical sciences, food scientists aim to create and improve food products.
A food scientist’s chief job requirements
Most food scientists working in product development or applied research enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, although individuals hoping to obtain an academic research position usually need either master’s or doctoral degrees.
The aspiring food scientist has his or her choice of majors, ranging from the obvious agricultural science degree to more general, yet interrelated, concentrations like biology, chemistry, and physics.
The major you select should naturally reflect your specific career ambitions, but don’t worry if your prospective university doesn’t offer an agricultural science degree; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) assures that broadly-trained students are more than qualified for food science work and often enjoy the greatest career flexibility.
Agricultural science curricula read a lot like general education programs, and typically require classes in everything from communications, business, and economics to courses in mathematics and the sciences.
Personal qualifications for food scientists include good written and verbal communication skills, fluency in computer technology, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
Once completed, your food science (or related) degree provides access to a host of rewarding careers, such as agricultural scientist, food technologist, agronomist, and soil scientist, as well as others.
Job outlook and salary information for food scientists
The BLS predicts faster than average employment growth over the coming decade throughout the food science industry. As environmental awareness and preventative health care increase, so too should the employment of food scientists. Furthermore, because food is a staple item, food scientists enjoy good job security even during the bleakest of economic recessions.
Although one might assume that most food science jobs are concentrated in America’s heartland, the truth is that they exists all over the country, from Kansas to California, Connecticut to Minnesota, and so on.
Wherever you are, if you’re passionate about science and the integrity of your food, food science makes an excellent major.