How to Become a Food Process Engineer


Food Process Engineer: Career Path Guide

To become a food process engineer, you'll first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for it:


• You enjoy math and science, especially food science 

• You have a high degree of intellectual curiosity

• You have ambition and initiative

• You enjoy working as a part of a team that is both creative and technical

• You enjoy evaluating and designing systems and equipment

• You are able to visualize the effects of change

• You are able to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this profession. 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!



Education Needed to Become a Food Process Engineer

You'll likely need a degree in industrial engineering with an emphasis in food manufacturing or process design, or a bachelor’s or master’s degree (B.Sc. or M.Sc.) in Chemical or Process Engineering, Food Science, Nutrition or Food Engineering.





General Job Description

Food process engineers are responsible for researching and developing new and existing products, equipment and processes within various business units of a food product manufacturing company.


They are also responsible for designing processing, handling, and packaging equipment and systems. Food process engineers may work in other capacities as well; some are responsible for managing or supervising other workers, working in technical sales and service, acting as specialized consultants, or marketing food products.



Typical Job Duties

The specific job duties of a food process engineer may vary depending on the sector of the food industry the work within, and the specific responsibilities of their job, although generally they are responsible for performing the following duties:


• Provide process engineering knowledge in the development of new food products

• Evaluate existing equipment and systems

• Determine specifications and scope of projects

• Design and implement new equipment and systems for production

• Create preliminary items ordering list

• Work with food product development scientists to bring a product from concept to launch

• Work with other engineers and technicians to determine equipment layout

• Test and troubleshoot equipment and systems

• Provide client or employer with technical support during implementation phase

• Solve problems in collaboration with plant engineering, continuous improvement and external manufacturers 



Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as a food process engineer, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills. They skills are also commonly listed on Food Process Engineer job postings.


• Able to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems

• Able to visualize the effects of change

• Able to fully grasp ideas and problems the first time they are communicated to you

• Able to balance needs, such as worker safety, process efficiency, and budgetary constraints

• Able to use the principles of calculus and trigonometry for analysis, design, and troubleshooting

• Able to assess how well the methods, systems and procedures are working on an ongoing basis

• Experience with specialized equipment, such as refrigeration plumbing and controls components





Helpful Personal Characteristics to Have

In order to enjoy performing the duties involved in this line of work, you'll need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as a food packaging specialist is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• You enjoy math and science, especially food science, biology and chemistry

• You have an interest in food processing systems

• You enjoy working in a team environment

• You enjoy blending creativity with technical expertise

• You enjoy having variety in your work

• You have ambition and initiative



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of food process engineers can vary, depending on their level of education, their level of aptitude, the amount of experience they have in the field, the size and type of their employer, and many other factors.


There is no salary information available from reliable sources specifically for Food Process Engineers, although we are able to get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related careers.


Food Process Engineer Salary Canada: According to the 2014 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans working in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $81,018 per year. According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), the annual provincial median salary of workers in the Other professional engineers group is $81,120 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 22, 2019).


Food Process Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Industrial Engineers occupational group is $78,860 per year.



Who Employs Them?

Food process engineers are typically hired on a full-time or contractual basis by the following types of organizations:


• Food processing companies

• Food processing equipment supplier

• Food processing and packaging design and consulting firms

• Food ingredient suppliers

• Colleges and universities

• Pharmaceutical companies

• Biochemical companies

• Municipal, regional and federal government departments



Food Process Engineer Jobs

Our job board below has "food process engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Career Advancement Possibilities

At the beginning of their careers, food process engineers typically work under the supervision of senior-level, experienced engineers. In some companies, new food process engineers may also receive formal training in classes or seminars.


As food process engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with more responsibility, and increased level of pay, and greater independence to develop designs and solve problems.


Food process engineers that demonstrate competence and initiative often advance to become technical specialists, such as facility planners, or move into supervisory and management roles.



Work Environment Typical to This Occupation

Food process engineers typically work in a combination of office and processing plant settings.


When working in an industrial plant setting, they may spend much of their day observing production, which involves asking questions and observing how work is done. When working in an office environment, they may spend much of their time writing specifications and meeting with other engineers and technologists.


They often work standards weekday working hours, although they may sometimes work shift work, depending on the needs of their employer.



Similar Occupations in Our System

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


Food Packaging Specialist

Food Production Manager

Food Scientist

Industrial Engineer

Packaging Engineer




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a food process engineer.


Occupations in Alberta:Manufacturing Engineering.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 25, 2019.

Architecture & Engineering:Industrial Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 25, 2019.

Food, Agriculture & Natural Resource Careers:Food Process Engineer.” (n.d.) Purdue University website. Retrieved November 25, 2019.

Articles:8 Facts About Food Process Engineers.” Veronica Hislop (January 29, 2019) website. Retrieved November 25, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Food Process Engineer

The scholarships in our system that are relevant for becoming a food process engineer are all of those that can be found on our Nutrition Scholarships and Industrial Engineering Scholarships pages.


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!



Applicable Majors

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


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Food Process Engineer