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Business Family and Consumer Scientist Job Description, Career as a Business Family and Consumer Scientist, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

scientists science help consumers

Education and Training: College

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Business family and consumer scientists apply their special knowledge of and skills in family and consumer science to the problems of a business firm. They help their companies research and understand what consumers want and need. They also teach consumers about products and services. Business family and consumer scientists help companies in many ways. They may design and market new or improved products, or they may develop goodwill toward the company by conducting consumer information programs. The titles of business family and consumer scientists vary. For example, they may be called marketing specialists or directors of consumer education.

Utility companies and the manufacturers of large household appliances, such as stoves, washers, and dryers, often employ business family and consumer scientists. These family and consumer scientists help people use and care for the appliances they buy. They may give demonstrations on how to operate an appliance and offer tips on saving money by using the machine wisely. For instance, to demonstrate an electric range, business family and consumer scientists may create new recipes that can be made on the range. They also answer consumers' questions. Sometimes they give shows for schools or clubs.

Supermarket chains, food manufacturers, and trade boards also employ business family and consumer scientists to prepare and present information to consumers. These family and consumer scientists may write pamphlets or give demonstrations. They appear on radio or television, teach consumers how to buy meat or prepare potatoes, or suggest menus using canned vegetables. This kind of information increases sales and creates goodwill for the company.

Some business family and consumer scientists work as designers or buyers for clothing, furniture, or textile manufacturers. They help these firms produce attractive and practical articles that consumers will like. Large department stores employ family and consumer scientists to advise them on the buying and displaying of merchandise. Banks, too, sometimes hire family and consumer scientists to help their customers plan their family budgets. Most companies that make consumer products or provide services can use the special skills of family and consumer scientists. Some family and consumer scientists have their own consulting firms that advise and help a variety of businesses.

A business family and consumer scientist consults with a company's representatives. One part of this job is to help companies research and understand what consumers want and need. (© Sie Productions/zefa/Corbis.)

Education and Training Requirements

If a career as a business family and consumer scientist is desired, interested individuals should take a college preparatory program in high school. They should take courses in family and consumer science, science, English, and speech. A bachelor's degree in family and consumer science is required for most jobs in this field. In addition to family and consumer science courses, students should also try to take courses in marketing, advertising, public relations, economics, and business management. Courses or experience in writing and public speaking are helpful. Any experience individuals can get in a job related to some phase of business family and consumer science is also useful training.

Getting the Job

The placement office at colleges can help students find job openings in business family and consumer science. Prospective workers should also check the classifieds in professional family and consumer science magazines or in the trade magazine of the particular industry that interests them. They can also apply directly to companies for which you would like to work. A librarian can be helpful in finding the magazines and directories that will give the names and addresses of the people to contact. Candidates should also check with state or private employment agencies and scan newspaper classifieds and Internet job banks.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement depends on skill, experience, location, and type of industry. After several years of experience, a business family and consumer scientist can become the head of a product development department, a manager of customer relations, or a company executive. Business family and consumer scientists who combine their skills in family and consumer science with marketing or management experience will have the best chances of advancement. Some business family and consumer scientists advance by forming their own consulting firms.

There should be many new job openings through the year 2014. Businesses are using more family and consumer scientists to keep them aware of the attitudes, behavior, and needs of their customers. Job opportunities should be available with manufacturers, marketing firms, and the design departments of large department stores.

Working Conditions

Most business family and consumer scientists work in pleasant offices. They may spend some time away from home as they travel from place to place demonstrating products or giving talks. They must often work in unfamiliar surroundings and meet large numbers of people. Those who work for supermarkets or department stores may spend long hours on their feet dealing with customers.

Business family and consumer scientists generally work forty hours per week. Sometimes they have to work evenings or weekends, depending on the assignment and type of work. Those who are self-employed set their own hours and working conditions. Business family and consumer scientists need to be flexible and creative. Their field is always changing and presenting new challenges. They should have the ability to communicate their ideas to others and deal with a wide variety of people.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
400 N. Columbus St., Ste. 202
Alexandria, VA 22314-2264
(800) 424-8080
http://www.aafcs.org

National Association of Business Economists
1233 20th St. NW, Ste. 505
Washington, DC 20036-2365
(202) 463-6223
http://www.nabe.com

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary widely depending on location, experience, and level of responsibility. Business family and consumer scientists earn annual salaries between $17,000 and $80,000. Benefits generally include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans. Self-employed family and consumer scientists must provide their own benefits.

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