How to Become a Food Technologist

Food technologists deal with all aspects of food processing. If you've noticed the many changes in types of food selection, quality controls, packing, production and information, the big advances in food technology are the reason. Food technologists have been systematically changing the nature of food processing in the marketplace.

Education and training

Please note that this is a particularly complex qualification path with many different streams for qualifications. Those looking for career options may find they have far more choices than they need. If you're considering a career in food technology, it's advisable to check career paths through an academic institution or career counselor. At entry level, undergraduate food technology programs are approved by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Core competencies for admission into an IFT approved food technology Bachelors degree program are a very good illustration of the entry requirements for the Bachelors degrees in food technology:

  • Chemistry: Two courses, organic and inorganic chemistry.
  • Biological sciences: Biology and microbiology.
  • Nutrition: Basic human nutrition and effects on health.
  • Physics: General physics.
  • Mathematics: Calculus.
  • Statistics
  • Communications: Basic speaking and writing skills

The basic qualification level for food technologists is a Bachelors degree in one of several areas stemming from the entry level studies. These degrees reflect the diverse range of food technology jobs and disciplines:

  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Biotechnology

This is in many ways a qualifications-dictated profession, because much of the work is pure scientific practice requiring advanced qualifications. At Bachelors level, food technologists are engaged in basic professional roles. This work may include some elements of the advanced jobs, but in practice it's at Masters level they gravitate into research and other advanced scientific roles. PhDs in food technology are highly sought after for advancement into higher levels of this work. 

Licenses and certifications:

Licenses are not required by individuals as food technologists. However, working with some materials and hazardous chemicals does require state and in some cases Federal certification and specific accredited qualifications.

Becoming a food technologist

The food industry is experiencing a steadily increasing demand for food technologists. Biotechnology in particular is expanding rapidly as a requirement in the industry, as biotech products come on the market and new production techniques are implemented. For a microbiologist, studies of food pathogens in this advanced technological environment are an excellent qualification for the top levels of microbiological research.

The extremely diverse scientific nature of food technology can be a major career asset for scientists in related fields. The high scientific and commercial facilities and standards applied to foods are particularly significant for aspiring scientists in terms of career experience. Food companies use many of the most advanced technologies available in these sciences, particularly at the research level. (In many cases these technologies are actually developed by the food industry.)

Food technology jobs can be valuable career experience in terms of job mobility for scientists across both the food industry and other industries. The qualifications requirements and additional studies inherent in food technology open up many avenues for career advancement in the food technologist's field. Job mobility can be extremely effective in creating career paths and achieving career goals, particularly for specialists.