How to Become a Food Scientist


Food Scientist Career Path Guide

If you want to become a food scientist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you.


Are you interested in a career that allows you to combine your knowledge of food chemistry, food processing, food rheology and food microbiology to develop products that are safe, attractive, convenient, nutritious and delicious? If so, then you may be well suited for a career as a food scientist!


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 Scientist

The education needed to qualify for jobs in this field typically depends on the type and level of job you want.


Earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural or food science is typically the minimum requirement to get an entry-level job in food science, such as Research Assistant, or Food Science Technologist. You may qualify for jobs in food science with a degree in other areas, such as biology, physics, engineering, or chemistry.


Whichever academic route you choose, taking classes such as food chemistry, food microbiology, food analysis, and food engineering are important areas of study if you want to become a food scientist.


Becoming a food scientist that completes your own research projects, directs others in applied research, you will likely need a master’s degree in food science. A master’s degree or higher may also allow you to qualify for positions in management or administration.


If you want to teach food science at the university level, you will likely need a doctoral degree in food science. Those with doctoral degrees also work as project leaders, research project coordinators or research directors.





General Job Description

Food scientists work to improve the quality of food products. They study the physical, chemical and microbiological properties of food products and ingredients. They are also involved in various forms of nutritional testing in order to find types of mold and bacteria which may be harmful, as well as to ensure that the colour, flavour and texture are appropriate. 



Typical Job Duties

• Devise alternative food production methods

• Create and develop new food products

• Liaise with other food production staff including microbiologists, engineers, packaging specialists and buyers

• Set food production and product quality standards

• Establish low cost production methods

• Test food products for harmful bacteria and other organisms

• Test shelf life of various ingredients and products



How Much Do Food Scientists Make?

The salary level of food 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.


Food 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, is $64,140 per year. 


Salary - Canada (Alberta & B.C.): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Chemists occupational group, which can include food scientists, earn an average salary of $79,450 per year. According to the Province of British Columbia, those working in the same occupational group earn an an annual provincial median salary of $74,277.





Why Do We Need Food Scientists?

There is a multitude of productive ways that food scientists apply their skills, knowledge and competencies in order to improve the quality of the food products we purchase and consume. These applications include:


• Improve ways that food is preserved, processed, stored, packaged and delivered

• Analyze the vitamin, mineral and chemical composition of food products

• Determine nutritional content of food under different conditions, such as freezing

• Discover, develop or create new food products for people and animals

• Find natural substitutes for harmful food additives or preservatives

• May be involved in the establishment and enforcement or regulations regarding food processing 



Who Hires Them? 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 food 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)



Food Scientist Jobs - Current Opportunities

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




Similar Career Guides in Our System

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



Food Chemist

Food Microbiologist

Sensory Scientist




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


Occupations in Alberta:Food Scientist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Food Scientists and Technologists.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Science & Engineering Careers: “Food Scientist or Technologist.” (n.d.) Science Buddies website. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Explore Careers:Food Scientist.” (n.d.) National Careers Service website. Retrieved November 26, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Food Scientist

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant for becoming a food scientist are all of those that can be found on the following pages.


Biochemistry Scholarships

Chemistry Scholarships

Nutrition 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!



Applicable Majors

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


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