Food Technologist Career Information

Food technologists work with the science and technology of food production, packaging, and preservation. This role involves virtually all aspects of modern food processing and research. The qualifications for food technology start in high school with biology, life sciences and chemistry. A Bachelors degree in the appropriate fields is another minimum entry level requirement for the profession. This role has a lot in common with biology, microbiology, chemistry, engineering and other related sciences.

Career Streams

Specialist studies for food technology include:

  • Food chemistry
  • Food analysis
  • Food microbiology
  • Food engineering
  • Food processing operations
  • Nutrition

There are several career streams in the food technology field requiring advanced specialist studies and qualifications. The Masters degree level is the primary qualification for research work. These higher degrees may involve studies in life sciences, microbiology, genetics, organic and inorganic chemistry and molecular biology. PhDs in this field are naturally research based, which may involve specialist studies and qualifications in particular areas.

Engineering in this case is mainly related to the mechanical production component of food processing but may include research technology for which advanced engineering qualifications are required. This is a different stream of qualifications in the food technology industry, but involves experience and familiarity with the industry's processes and requirements.

Training

The commercial industry receives a lot of training within the industry itself. This general training is considered valuable for job mobility and career prospects. The in-house on the job training is very important, and includes:

  • Direct training, practical and classroom, in line production processes
  • Use of commercial data systems
  • Specific experience in areas of production

This training also involves working with commercial production systems. These are often advanced production methods using proprietary technology, which is valuable training in its own right. Patented production techniques and materials may form a major part of some commercial food production operations. 

Wages and Hours

You can typically earn between $40,000 to $80,000, depending on your position. Additional income may result from research contracts, consultancies or other advanced professional services. A technologist will work the standard 8 to 5 hours, although lower level jobs may involve production shift schedules.

The career environment

Food technologists, with their wide range of qualifications which can transfer over to various tasks in the industry and therefore  include a lot of job mobility. Qualifications are often upgraded to higher degrees to advance their scientific credentials for career progression.

Working in a commercial industry has advantages for scientists and technologists. The food industry is particularly suited to developing a range of advanced scientific skills and is highly receptive to innovation. This opens up several fields of opportunity for food technologists, particularly in the research and engineering areas.

Food technology employment is expected to rise by the national average of 10% over the coming decade. However, demand is increasing for food production thanks to population growth, so these figures may be an underestimate of actual requirements over that period.

Food technology includes many of the important innovations and new developments in commercial applications of food and nutritional science. This has given rise to consultancies and specialist services, opening up new areas for career progression and higher incomes.