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Food Technologist Job Description, Career as a Food Technologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree

Average Salary $63,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

A food technologist, otherwise known as a food scientist, is someone who works in the food processing industry and works to help develop healthy, safe, and convenient food products. They continually work to develop better methods of food preservation, better processing and packaging procedures, better storage and even better delivery processes. They also research harmful food additives and develop substitutes in order to make sure foods are safe and healthy. Some work for the government to assist in food labeling, or to visit restaurants and food processing plants to make sure they meet sanitation codes and safety regulations.

Education and Training Requirements

A Bachelor’s degree is required for most jobs as a food technologist. There is no specific degree for food technology or science, but many food technologies get a degree in agricultural science or a closely related field. Some food technologies wish to work for agencies to do specific research. Research and scientific fields usually require a Master’s degree. A food technologist who works at the administrative research development level or who wishes to teach college courses will in most circumstances need a Doctorate degree.

Courses required for training as a food technologist include food chemistry, microbiology, processing operations, and engineering. Most food technologists start off working as part of an apprenticeship or internship program to observe procedures that are done and gain hands-on experience with technology involved in food production establishments. After training and experience in different fields, some food technologists may branch off into a more specific food department such as dairy, meat, or plant products.

Getting the Job

Many companies require a food technologist to have several years experience before working as one of the regular technologists on their team. Relevant experience is usually obtained in the beginning through apprenticeship or internship programs.

In order to land a job in the field, a food technologist must be detail-oriented and have a wide understanding of food preparation and packaging laws as well as relevant sanitation and safety codes specific to each department. They will notice and report specific and minute details that may seem trivial, but are still a violation to health codes and may escalate into bigger issues. Technologists often have to repeat tasks regularly to make sure all requirements are being met, as well as constantly be on the lookout for improvement ideas and suggestions. Every time a food technologist performs a procedure, they must be wondering what can be done to make it healthier, safer or more efficient.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Most food technologists start off working in factories to observe routine procedures such as processing, packaging and delivering. After experience is gained in these basic fields, many processors will move on to work for bigger government agencies to perform bigger investigations on a governmental scale. This work is often for statewide health departments performing investigations on restaurants, bars and markets. Many technologists work in general factory positions in the beginning of their career, and then move on to larger corporations that give them a more specific job to perform.

Employee outlook for food technologists is continually on the rise as many companies are increasingly looking for healthier alternatives to their foods. More education is now available on preservatives and food additives, so companies want to keep up with the advancements. There are also advancements in the technology department involving food health and safety, so technologists are needed to determine what advancements can be used and how it can improve the industry.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working as a food technologist is not always a clean or pleasant job. Many technologists work in factories and simply observe procedures to make sure they’re being performed properly, but many also regularly visit restaurants and grocery stores to oversee procedures being performed and check every detail of daily routines. Technologists will inspect freezers, packaging, vegetable and meat cutters, and how employees prepare and handle food. They will have a check list of duties to perform and report any violations to the proper departments.

Some food technologists work solely on inspecting food and continually work to improve its quality and ingredients. These technologists may work in a lab to test new ingredients and packaging techniques before submitting ideas to department heads.

Salary and Benefits

The average starting salary for a food technologist is $63,000 per year. The wide opportunity for advancement in the field can lead to heavily increasing salaries and benefit packages. Someone who obtains a Bachelor’s degree and works in a factory observing practices may start off at about $50,000 per year, while someone with a Master’s who works up to managing a governmental food inspection agency may make up to $100,000 per year. Due to the many opportunities for advancement in employment and education, many food technologists find themselves rapidly moving up in the field.

Working for a government agency often allows for excellent health benefits packages, as well as vacation and sick leave allowance. These jobs are secure and continually on the rise, which results in better employment opportunities.

Many food technologists love what they do and love the thought of improving the food industry, so the biggest benefit to their job is knowing they are helping to make products safer and more efficient. Someone who is passionate about this aspect of their job will often move up quickly and obtain a larger salary with better benefits and job security.

Where to Go for More Information

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
(888) INFO-FDA

Institute of Food Technologists
525 W. Van Buren, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 782-8424

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesManufacturing & Production