How do I Become a Food Scientist?

Dee S.
Dee S.

It is important to understand what a food scientist does before someone can decide whether she actually wants to become one. In general, food scientists work to create and raise the standards for food products. They use their educational background to improve the ways that food is preserved, processed, stored, packaged, and even delivered. Sometimes, a food scientist can work in the research sector and analyze the vitamin, mineral, and chemical make up of food or even discover or create new foods. Other times, she will work to enforce and uphold the regulations established by the government, inspect the areas where food is processed, and make sure that the highest levels of quality and safety standards are reached.

Food scientists perform research in laboratories.
Food scientists perform research in laboratories.

Once someone has made the decision to become a food scientist, she should begin to consider what kind of education and training she needs. Usually, the level of education that she receives depends on the kind of job she wants. For example, receiving a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science can be enough, if the job is focused on developing a product or assisting others in research projects. Someone who wants a job where she completes her own research projects or directs others in applied research, however, will likely need to earn a master’s degree or a doctorate. In addition, if an individual wants to teach others about food science on a college level, then a doctoral degree will be essential.

Food science is a broad field.
Food science is a broad field.

Again, depending on the kind of job that someone who wants to become a food scientist may seek, she can get a degree in other areas, such as biology, physics, engineering, or chemistry, and still qualify for a position in this field. Although many colleges and universities offer courses that prepare people for a general agricultural science degree, someone who wants to work in food science may have to search for a college or university that offers specialized courses in the field. For example, food chemistry, food microbiology, food analysis, and food engineering are important areas of study to those wanting to become a food scientist.

A food scientist may be tasked with sampling and testing each batch of milk for safety and quality before it is processed and bottled.
A food scientist may be tasked with sampling and testing each batch of milk for safety and quality before it is processed and bottled.

It is always a good idea to take a wide range of courses, however, in case another job presents itself in the agricultural science sector, such as one involving soil science, animal science, or plant science. Someone who plans on getting a master’s or doctoral degree should expect to complete some training in the field, research in a laboratory, and possibly a thesis or a paper based on her independent research.

Food scientists work to create and raise the standards for food products.
Food scientists work to create and raise the standards for food products.

The ability to work both as a member of a larger team and alone are important qualities for someone who wants to become a food scientist. Great communication skills and an understanding of statistics and the principles of business are also helpful in the profession. In all, it can be a rewarding and interesting career path.

A food scientist may be expected to have a strong understanding of microbiology.
A food scientist may be expected to have a strong understanding of microbiology.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments

anon288281

I am in high school and very interested in food science. What classes do I have to take now to prepare me for this field?

anon286064

The college I am currently attending does not offer a food science major or even any food-related courses other than basic nutrition. Is it possible for me to just get a degree in biology and/or chemistry and still become a food scientists? If so, would I need any more education as well?

amypollick

@anon243861: You're probably going to think I'm nuts, but I would recommend you take biology and chemistry. Food science deals in both these areas. Also, if there are any nutrition classes offered at your school, those would also probably be helpful. Getting as many science classes in now as you can would probably be helpful.

anon243861

I am in high school and am very interested in becoming a food scientist, so what classes do I take now in high school to prepare me for this field?

jessica500

I think it would be very interesting and rewarding to have a career in food science. You could have a role in creating new foods that people would like to buy, and even make them more nutritious.

I think it would be exciting to put together food from start to finish and witness the finished product. I have a background in food, and food chemistry is something I love. I am seriously considering a career in food science while I pursue my Bachelor's degree.

anon147824

Is finding a job as a food scientist difficult after graduating? And is getting a bachelors degree in biology hard?

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