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Food Science: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Business and Technology

  • Quality assurance
  • Food safety
  • Quality inspection
  • Process inspection
  • Production management
  • New food/Flavor chemistry
  • Sensory evaluation
  • Applied food research: preserving, processing, packaging, storing, delivering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Consumer education

Employers

  • Food processing plants
  • Food manufacturing plants
  • Food ingredient suppliers
  • Food equipment suppliers
  • Container manufacturers
  • Large retail chains such as Starbucks, Target
  • Feed companies
  • Dairy, beef, or hog farms
  • Federal government including Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture
  • State governments

Information & Strategies

  • Earn a minor in business or agribusiness.
  • Become adept at using computers.
  • Take courses in statistics.
  • Gain relevant experience through internships.
  • Participate in student professional organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Compete on a meat or dairy products judging team.
  • Join the Institute of Food Technologists to learn more about the field and for networking opportunities.
  • Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills. Learn to work well in a team.
  • Earn a graduate degree for advanced opportunities in research or management.
  • Demonstrate creativity and curiosity for positions in product or flavor development.

Science

  • Basic research
  • Food microbiology/Food chemistry
  • Product development
  • Food engineering
  • Food safety
  • Quality inspection
  • Quality assurance
  • Process inspection

Employers

  • Federal government including Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency
  • State governments
  • Food processing plants
  • Food manufacturing plants
  • Food ingredient suppliers
  • Food equipment suppliers
  • Quality-control laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Universities and colleges

Information & Strategies

  • Join the Institute of Food Technologists to learn more about the field and for networking opportunities.
  • Gain related experience through internships.
  • Assist a professor with research to gain laboratory experience.
  • Take additional courses in the sciences.
  • Become highly detail oriented.
  • Participate in research paper competitions sponsored by professional associations.
  • Research apprentice membership in the Society of Flavor Chemists if that is an area of interest.
  • Obtain a graduate degree to reach higher levels of research and administration. A doctoral degree is required for university teaching.

Pre-Professional

  • Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary sciences
  • Other healthcare fields

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Private or group practice
  • Health networks
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Mental health institutions
  • Federal, state, and local health departments
  • Government agencies
  • Armed services
  • Correctional facilities
  • Colleges and universities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Retail pharmacy chains
  • Research laboratories
  • Animal food companies
  • Zoos

Information & Strategies

  • Food science is good preparation for professional graduate programs in pharmacy, veterinary science, dentistry, or medicine because of the strong science background that is developed.
  • Research admissions requirements for individual programs.
  • Maintain a high GPA and prepare for required entrance exams.
  • Secure strong personal recommendations from faculty.
  • Gain exposure to field of interest through volunteering, part-time and summer jobs, or internships.
  • Research accredited institutions. Check graduation rates, success rates on licensing exams, cost, location, etc. If possible, speak with current students.
  • Develop backup career plans in case admission is denied.

General Information

  • The food processing industry is one of the largest in the US and throughout the world, so many opportunities exist for students trained in food science.
  • A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some opportunities in applied research and in food processing. Earn a master’s or doctoral degree to conduct basic research.
  • A PhD is required for university teaching.
  • A high percentage of food scientists work for local, state, or federal government. Learn government application procedures.
  • Learn to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Develop strong communication skills both written and oral. Also develop analytical skills and an attention to detail.
  • Join professional associations and student organizations to stay abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts. Get involved with the Institute of Food Technologists.
  • Talk to professionals already in your desired field regarding their backgrounds. Arrange a shadowing experience.
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