How to Become a Sensory Scientist

How to Become a Sensory Scientist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a sensory scientist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a sensory scientist:


Those who become sensory scientists are strong in academics and are emotionally stable, as this is required to complete short and long-term tasks. They must be interested in a wide range of scientific fields, and have an aptitude for mathematics and statistics.


Sensory scientists must be interested in investigating the claims of foodstuff manufacturers, and determining consumer preferences. They must be comfortable working in a laboratory setting, and communicating their findings and opinions to others.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a sensory scientist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Sensory Scientist Job Description

Sensory scientists conduct research and testing to help industry guide new product development (typically food and beverage products) in order to determine what the consumer wants and what they are prepared to buy.



Sensory Scientist Job Duties

• Serves as sensory representative on business teams

• Applies design of experiments to sensory evaluation testing

• Communicates observations and next steps in the product development phase

• Uses discrimination testing in order to determine if differences are perceivable in consumer packaged

• Interprets statistical analysis of the results of sensory evaluation testing

• Confers with research and development, marketing, packaging, manufacturing and other departments



Education Needed to Become a Sensory Scientist

In order to become a sensory scientist that works in a junior-level position, such as a laboratory technician or research assistant, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area such as chemistry, biology, biochemistry, food science or a related area.


A master’s degree in one of the aforementioned fields, or an accrual of work experience in various jobs related to the food manufacturing, distribution or regulation industry will allow you to move into different positions and areas, such as:


• Supervisory or management levels of quality assurance, inspection and regulation

• Positions in marketing and sales

• New product development, and process research and development

• Regulatory positions with federal and provincial/state government agencies


Research and teaching positions in post-secondary institutions (especially universities) generally require a doctoral degree in an area related to sensory or food science.


Coursework to pursue during undergraduate years:


• Chemistry, biology and physics for background knowledge in science

• Statistics and mathematics for result analysis

• Psychology and marketing, for understanding consumers

• Chemical engineering or food technology for an understanding of product development 




Who Hires Sensory Scientists? Where Do They Work?

There are a variety of public and private organizations within the food and beverage industry that create jobs that utilize the skills, knowledge and competencies of sensory scientists. These organizations include:


• Companies involved in food and beverage processing or manufacturing

• Colleges and universities

• Private research firms

• Federal and provincial/state government agencies

• International food agencies such as the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO)




Sensory Scientist Salary: How Much Do They Make?

The salary level of sensory scientists can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, their specific job responsibilities, and many others.


Sensory Scientist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Chemists occupational group, which includes sensory scientists, earn an average from $28.03 to $45.00 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $35.36 per hour.


Sensory Scientist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary of workers in the Food Scientists and Technologists occupational group, which includes sensory scientists, is $64,140 per year.



Skills Needed to Become a Successful Sensory Scientist

In order to become a successful sensory scientist, and not just one that is mediocre, you need to possess a certain set of skills. These skills may be acquired as a result or work experience, education, or you may be lucky enough to have been born with them.


Technical Skills: Must be competent in the use of technical sensory measurement techniques such as mass spectrometry, and magnetic resonance imaging.


Communication Skills: Sensory scientists must be able to explain their studies and their results, such as what they were trying to learn. They must also be able to communicate well when working with others, including technicians and student assistants.


Critical-Thinking Skills: Sensory scientists must use their expertise to determine the best way to answer specific research questions.


Data-Analysis Skills: Sensory scientists collect must be able to utilize standard data analysis techniques to understand the data and get the answers to the questions they are studying.


Observation Skills: Sensory scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other data, as any mistake could lead to inconclusive or inaccurate results. 



How Sensory Scientists Apply Their Skills

Employers and clients of sensory scientists may utilize their skills, knowledge and competencies for a variety of purposes, including:


• Developing new products

• Investigating the preferences of consumers

• Determining if consumers can detect differences in a product when an ingredient is changed

• Testing the claims of food product manufacturers

• Developing experimental plans that enable the food industry to set up its own sensory testing

• Conducting research related to perception

• Developing improved testing methods and programs



Careers Similar to Sensory Scientist

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Sensory Scientist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Food and Drug Inspector

Food Chemist

Food Microbiologist

Food Scientist



References: How to Become a Sensory Scientist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a sensory scientist.


Occupations in Alberta:Food Scientist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Agricultural and Food Scientists, All Other.” (March 30, 2018). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Register of Professional Sensory Scientists:Am I eligible to be a Registered Sensory Scientist?.” (n.d.). Institute of Food Science Technology website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Article: Sensory Scientists.” (February 1, 2011.) Science Learning Hub website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Sensory Scientist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Sensory Scientist can be found on the following pages:


Biology Scholarships

Nutrition Scholarships

Psychology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Sensory Scientist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a sensory scientist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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