Food Science Technician Job Description
Food science technicians work under the supervision of scientists to analyze the quality of food and other agricultural products.
Food science technicians spend a lot of their time inspecting the chemicals, additives, and foodstuffs that are used in our food. They have to ensure that the foods we consume contains the correct amount of ingredients before it’s shipped, so the food will be safe for human or animal consumption.
Some food science technicians work in the private sector, while others work for the government.
Those who work in the private sector inspect food to make sure that it’s safe to distribute to stores. They also work in quality control, to ensure that batches of food contain the right balance of ingredients, and that it meets the company’s quality guidelines. Sometimes, these technicians also help develop new types of foods. For example, if a company wanted to produce a new type of cereal, technicians would help develop the formula and ingredient selection.
Food science technicians who work for the government make sure that foods and their ingredients are in compliance with the standards set by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Their tests are used to determine whether or not a particular product can be distributed and sold.
The data that food science technicians collect is compiled and analyzed, and often presented to stakeholders in reports, formal presentations, and charts. In most cases, scientists will prepare and deliver these reports, but in other cases, technicians are more involved in that process.
Good food science technicians are neat, organized, and able to pay close attention to detail. Doing this job well requires maintaining a clean working environment. And since the health of consumers sometimes depend on technicians, a lot of precision is required.
Food science technicians work in many different environments, including laboratories, offices, and processing plants. Those who work in offices and laboratories normally enjoy more regular working schedules than those who work in processing plants. Additionally, processing plants can be very noisy and the working conditions are typically less comfortable.
If you’re in high school and you want to make sure that your college degree prepares you for a job, this could be a good choice. The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act has called for a significant increase in the volume of food inspections, meaning that more technicians will need to be hired in the government sector.
How to Become a Food Science Technician
The majority of food science technicians have at least an associate’s degree in a related subject. Though it’s possible to get a job in this field with only a high school diploma, such opportunities are normally harder to find.
Students who study food science in college learn through both classroom training and hands on training (like internships and other experiential learning opportunities). The hands on training is extremely valuable when it comes to finding a job, as employers generally prefer to hire candidates with related work experience. If you plan on earning an associate’s degree, it would be well worth your time to explore your internship options.
Entry level employees without prior experience need to go through extensive on the job training that can last up to a year. During the training period, new employees work under the supervision of more experienced technicians, until they are able to perform all of their duties on their own.
If you would like to have long-term growth opportunities in this field, it would be wise to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or another closely related subject. Though a bachelor’s degree isn’t normally required for entry level positions, advancement opportunities may be limited without one.
If you’re still in high school and you’re considering a career as a food science technician, it would be helpful to take as many math and science classes as you can. Math, physics, chemistry, and biology all have every day applications in this occupation, and you will need a strong background in those subjects to have a career in this field.
There are currently 21,300 food science technicians in the United States, with 870 new food science technician job openings created each year.
Food Science Technician jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Food Science Technician salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most food science technicians make between $26,700 – $42,900 per year, or $12.84 – $20.64 per hour.