How to Get a Food Science Degree
Many colleges and universities offer food science and nutrition programs, so how do you know which is best for you? You first need to have a general idea of what career path you’d like to take later in life. After you determine that, you will be able to start your search for a post-secondary school that will best prepare you for your career goals.
Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Food Science. Although there are a few prerequisite courses necessary before students can jump into in-depth food science courses, it is possible to get into those courses later during their first year. Students can choose from a variety of courses in food science to shape their educational experience to fit their needs. The food science program offers courses like Food Plant Sanitation, Science and Technology of Dairy Foods, Supervised Experience in College Teaching for Undergraduates, and more in order for their students to make the most of their time at Penn State.
Oregon State University offers its students the opportunity to major in food science. Courses include but are not limited to Food Law, Organic Chemistry, Human Nutrition, and Fermentation Microbiology. Students are also required to take chemistry and writing courses, as well, in order to prepare them for research and report writing. The College of Agricultural Sciences also offers 18 different degree programs for graduate students, Food Science and Technology included.
Washington State University also provides educational experiences in food science. Undergraduate students can major in everything from Agricultural and Food Business Economics to Food Science to Organic Agriculture Systems, and graduate students can earn master degrees and doctoral degrees, as well. The university’s Agricultural College and School of Science officially opened for students in 1892, just 2 years after the university was founded. Since then, the college has grown drastically and continues to expand students’ understanding of agriculture and food science to this day.
Careers in Food Science
So now you have an idea of where to start looking for colleges, but next comes the big question: “What can I do with a degree in food science?” In this section, you will find a variety of jobs you can get with a food science degree. But don’t stop looking here. There are many other job options available to people with food science degrees, as well.
Entry Level Careers in Food Science
Once you’ve earned a bachelors degree in food science or a related field, you may be interested in an entry level position in order to gain experience in hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, or maybe you need something to do while you pursue your masters degree in food science. Either way, below you will find just a few jobs you can get with a bachelors degree in food science.
If you are organized, you possess good leadership qualities, and you want to see small businesses succeed, then perhaps you should consider a career as a restaurant consultant. Whether they work independently or for consulting firms, restaurant consultants assist in building a restaurant’s reputation for customer service and satisfaction. They are often hired by owners before the restaurant opens in order to provide insight into menu options and train employees in excellent customer service techniques to ensure that first-time guests have a pleasurable enough experience that they look forward to coming back for the same top-quality service and food again and again. Restaurant consultants typically possess certificates, but bachelor degrees in food science or management are highly regarded, as well.
Restaurant Consultants can make anywhere from $30,000 to over $65,000 annually.
Food inspectors spend much of their time traveling to food processing plants, specifically those that process meat and poultry, in order to ensure safe and healthy work environments in order to prevent contamination of the food being processed. They also confirm the accuracy of labels produced and placed on finalized products. Food inspectors have good managerial and communication skills in order to report the results of their travels to the Department of Agriculture. To become a food inspector, you need a bachelors degree in food science, agricultural science, or another related field. It is also preferable that you have some experience in food science.
Food inspectors can earn around $32,000 or more annually.
Food ToxicologistFood toxicologists are responsible for determining the benefits and/or negative effects of chemicals injected in or used around food that is being processed. Some food toxicologists work for the government to assist in developing or modifying regulations for the use of certain chemicals in foods. Food toxicologists have strong backgrounds in chemistry, biology, and other areas of food science and are very talented researchers and skilled in written and verbal communication.
Food toxicologists can earn over $35,000 a year.
Advanced Careers in Food Science
With experience and/or a higher degree (masters or doctoral degree) in the field of food science, you will qualify for many more job opportunities, some of which are listed below.
Biotechnologists put together research projects for themselves and lab technicians and assist in the collection and analysis of data during the research process. They record and create reports based on their findings. Biotechnologists typically possess a bachelors degree in a field of food science and a masters degree in an area such as biology. They also have exquisite research and written and verbal communication skills in order to instruct and assist lab technicians in the research process. Biotechnologists often find jobs in medical, agricultural, or manufacturing industries.
Biotechnologists can earn anywhere from $50,000 to over $90,000 a year, depending on experience and education levels.
Also known as a flavorist, a flavor chemist spends his or her days inventing new flavors for products and finding ways to enhance natural and already existing flavors and scents in food products. Food chemists are mainly employed in the food, beverage, and cosmetic industries. Pharmaceutical companies also hire them to search for ways to enhance the taste of liquid medicines. In order to become a flavor chemist, you need a bachelors degree in food science followed by a masters degree in food chemistry. (To land a job as an assistant, you can start out with just a bachelors degree.)
Flavor chemists can make well over $65,000 annually.
Senior Food Scientist
Senior food scientists are often in charge of managing projects that are meant to create new food products. They often develop plans for new projects and spend their time researching and gathering data in order to complete these projects. They are also responsible for presenting the results both orally and in written reports and handle multiple ongoing projects at once. Therefore, senior food scientists are highly organized and experienced in food science research. They also possess at least a masters degree in food science or a related field such as biochemistry, and many have earned doctoral degrees in a related field.
Senior food scientists can earn an annual salary of over $71,000.
Companies that Hire People with Food Science Degrees
Many companies and organizations around the world hire people with food science degrees. With a degree in food science, you can work for the government or large research and inspection corporations. A few examples of some popular places that hire people for jobs in food science are listed below.
H.J. Heinz Company – headquarters in King of Prussia, PA, locations across the globe; food product and condiment company, known mostly for its world-renown Heinz ketchup; hires positions for food technologists, supply planners, buyers,
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – hires positions for quality assurance specialists, food inspectors, food scientists, etc.
The Hershey Company – headquarters in Hershey, PA; known best for its creation and production of Hershey’s chocolate products; hires positions for food technologists, business analysts, retail sales merchandisers, category strategists, packaging designers, etc.
Waymouth Farms, Inc. – located in New Hope, MN; known for Good Sense Snacks; hires positions for food safety specialists, etc.
Coca-Cola Refreshments – hires positions for quality assurance supervisors, flavor chemists, manufacturing operators, etc.
This article is meant as a mere stepping stone on the path to discovering your future. Food science is an industry that will never die, because societies need assurance that the food they’re consuming is not only delicious but full of nutrients and lacking in unhealthy chemicals.