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Become a Food Scientist
Food scientists use their knowledge of life and physical sciences to create better ways of producing, processing and shipping food or to fulfill a regulatory role that keeps these same activities safe from contamination or other risks. Entry-level food scientists might work for research and development corporations, farms or food processors. They might be responsible for food packaging, safety compliance or marketing developed technologies to new and existing markets. Food scientists who have a graduate degree might work in labs or in the field, observing, researching and analyzing food production. This can include studying animal nutrition and crop health to ensure the safety of the food supply or inspecting food production facilities.
Food Scientist Educational Requirements
Depending on the positions in which they serve, food scientists might hold an undergraduate or graduate degree. Bachelor's degrees in agricultural science or related sciences may be adequate for positions in farming and food processing technology. Food scientists who work in research positions at academic institutions are typically required to hold at least a master's degree, and those who wish to teach generally need a doctorate.
Aspiring food scientists can enter the field with a bachelor's degree in agricultural or food science. Bachelor of Science in Food Science programs typically focus on agricultural science and technology applicable to entry-level positions in the food industry. Courses may include food processing and packaging, agricultural analysis and chemistry, dairy biology, nutrition and food law. These programs may also offer opportunities to gain hands-on, industry experience through internships.
Master's and doctoral programs in food science usually focus on advanced, specialized training. These programs incorporate classroom and laboratory instruction in technology and principles of food engineering. Courses may include food microbiology and chemistry, preservation, food safety and research methods. Ph.D. programs may also involve teaching instruction or teaching assistantships. Graduate students are typically required to complete thesis projects or dissertations.
Along with formal education, food scientists should have strong oral and written communication skills. They often work with teams of agriculturalists or food scientists, but must also be able to work independently. Proficiency with computers is necessary for this career, as well as statistical, analytical and problem-solving skills.