How to Become a Food Technologist

Overview

Food technology is a branch of food science that is concerned with the processes and methods involved in the production of food. The processes are research, development, production, packaging and so on. This field of food science uses an investigative and in-depth approach into the ingredients, composition, properties and preparation of food.

The purpose of a food technologist is to use scientific methods, techniques and processes to develop and improve consumer food products. With the knowledge of food technology, every value addition stage such as procuring ingredients, preparing formulations, packaging food, storing food and selling of food products can be studied and improved for safer consumption. The goal is to ensure that a food product’s macro and micro nutrients are and remain healthy and beneficial for consumption in the short and long run.

Job Duties

The job duties of a food technologist are quite straight forward and clearly defined. Job duties more or less vary on the level of experience, type of food manufacturing concern, type of industry and level of market competition and standards. Use this list to get a general idea on what you may encounter.

  • Study existing product formulations and bill of materials
  • Research and stay up to date with new nutrients, formulas, macro and micro nutrients and their impact on human consumption
  • Observe current quality control procedures at ever value addition phase
  • Thoroughly analyze raw materials and ingredients for their properties and composition
  • Develop safety and quality procedures
  • Meet with various suppliers and vendors to develop standards and procedures. It is important to share quality standards with suppliers
  • Prepare costing and financials based on raw materials and product formulations
  • Develop new and improve existing systems for food processing, food handling, food packaging and food production
  • Thoroughly test new products and ingredients by ensuring they pose no threat to human consumption as time elapses
  • Conduct audits on suppliers to ensure they are up to standard

Education Requirements

Education qualifications are given great emphasis in this the field of food technology because most of what you study and learn during your academic period may be applied in real like scenarios.

With a bachelor’s degree in food science or one of its branches, you can gain an entry level position in either food product development, basic research and so on. With the help of chemistry, food analysis, biology, engineering, microbiology, nutrition and similar courses you can develop a foundation in food technology.

If you wish to enter the fields of research and development, applied research and applied food science, then it is advised you opt for higher education such as a masters or a doctoral degree in food science specializations. With the academic training and level of exposure at this level, you may be able to contribute significantly to the food industry.

Research and development plays an important role in this industry if you wish to increase your marketability and market value. Therefore it is advised to constantly be involved in some kind of research to show employers your strong drive.

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the employment of food scientists and technologists is expected to grow by 16 percent by the year 2020 which is faster than the rate of other occupations. A number of factors contribute to this forecasted expansion in employment.

There is increasing demand for high quality, safe and hygienic food. End consumers demand that the food they eat be made under carefully monitored conditions using safe processes. They demand that every value addition stage is governed by a set of quality standards so that upon consumption there is no risk or harm. Public awareness to health and safety has also put a pressure on manufactures to increase quality standards.

All these reasons, among others have placed pressure on the food science industry to expand and increase both its quality and quantity of intellectual output that can benefit the food industry.

Salary Prospects

According to statistics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the average annual salary for food scientists and technologists is $64,140 which translates to about $30.84 on an hourly basis. In another source, the average yearly salary for a food technologist is $50,000 (simplyhired.com).

Earning potential is largely dependent on your level of experience, your research interests and the type of industry or company you operate in. Private multinational labels may offer a greater compensation package to you given their competitive and premium products. On the other hand, public sector operations or smaller companies may not be able to match the compensation levels of multinational companies.

If you are involved in research projects or bring some new ideas to the food science industry that may prove insightful, then you are on the fast track of expanding your career opportunities and ultimately the earning potential.

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