Food Science Technician
Food Science Technician
Education and Training: Varies—see profile
Salary: Median—$14.29 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Food science technicians provide valuable assistance to food scientists and technologists in the areas of research and development, production technology, and quality control. They conduct tests to determine the physical or chemical properties of food or beverages to ensure compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations regarding color, texture, and nutrients.
Food science technicians have a number of duties. They analyze, record, and compile test results; clean and sterilize lab equipment; measure and test product containers to ensure that they meet product specifications; and analyze test results. By monitoring and reviewing test results, they are able to detect or assess problems with food products. They are also responsible for recording and storing information, usually on computers.
Besides a good background in science and mathematics, a food science technician must have a thorough knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products as well as storage techniques. They must also be knowledgeable of FDA regulations and standards.
Education and Training Requirements
Education requirements to become a food science technician vary, depending on the preference of the employer. Some employers require at least two years of specialized training or an associate's degree in a related field. Other employers demand a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology or a degree with a concentration of science and math courses. Several major colleges and universities offer a food science program, which would be the ideal curriculum for those interested in this field.
There is a voluntary certification program offered by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. To earn a certificate, an individual must pass a written examination, have a certain level of job-related experience, and undergo a supervisory evaluation.
Getting the Job
College job fairs, Internet job sites, and newspaper want ads are all viable ways to look for a job in the food science field. Candidates can also check with college job placement offices or consult with job counselors to find opportunities.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
As food science technicians advance, they gain more responsibility and work on more important projects. They may also be put in supervisory positions.
The job outlook for food science technicians is expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014. Experts predict that the best opportunities will be in certain segments of the food-processing industry.
Food science technicians work indoors, in comfortable offices and laboratories. They work regular hours but may have to put in overtime when they are working on a particular project that requires monitoring. They may work around hazardous chemicals or toxic materials, but stringent safety and health regulations have reduced any risk of danger.
Where to Go for More Information
Institute of Food Technologists
525 W. Van Buren, Ste. 1000
Chicago, IL 60607
International Union of Food Technology
P.O. Box 61021
No. 19, 511 Maplegrove Rd.
Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6J 6XO
National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
1420 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-2715
Earnings and Benefits
The median hourly salary for food science technicians is $14.29, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A standard benefit package includes health and dental insurance, 401K, and paid vacation.