Food science professionals play important roles in the food supply chain. Food scientists need to know a lot about chemistry, biology and nutritional sciences in order to understand the basic elements of food. Their work helps ensure the safety of harvested, processed and manufactured foods.
Food scientists also empower individuals to take better control of their wellness by ensuring the accuracy of food product labels and nutritional information. Individuals who work in food science also seek to discover new food sources and systems.
Curious about how to become a food scientist and what a typical food scientist job description looks like? Here, you can learn all about careers in the food science field, food scientist education requirements and more.
Food Science Careers
Food science is a broad career path made up of professionals who work at farms, labs and food manufacturing plants. Knowing which particular career interests you will help in directing your academic journey. For example, if you aspire to work as a quality assurance technician at a food processing facility, your main responsibilities will include ensuring compliance in the area of sanitation, safety and quality in various areas of the facility. You will also analyze the nutritional content of the food products and ensure proper labeling.
Professionals who work in research positions might do anything from experimenting with various food storage methods to researching the safety of food additives. Food scientists who work in development will primarily look for ways to improve upon existing food products or create brand new ones.
If a typical food scientist job description interests you, consider learning more about how to become a food scientist. An academic background in chemistry and nutrition science may also prove to be helpful.1
What Can I Do With a Degree in Nutrition Science?
If you’re thinking of earning your nutrition science degree, you might wonder about the types of nutrition jobs you might pursue. There is a wide range of possibilities. For example, if you enjoy sports, you might consider pursuing a position with a sports organization. Sports nutritionists work with athletes and teams, developing balanced menus to fuel athletic performance and aid injury recovery.
Other nutrition jobs you might consider pursuing include the following:
- Food product development scientist: These professionals work on developing new food products that are nutritious and flavorful.
- Public health nutritionist: These professionals work behind the scenes to identify major trends in nutrition and develop programs and guidelines to address public health concerns.
- Food safety auditor: Food safety auditors focus on protecting the public by ensuring proper food safety and sanitation at processing and manufacturing companies.
- Corporate wellness consultant: These consultants work with employees and conduct workshops or seminars designed to help employees optimize their health and reduce work-related health problems.
- Nutrition services manager: These professionals often work in schools and hospitals, where they plan nutritious menus and coordinate the large-scale preparation of meals.
- Humanitarian nutritionist: Often working within non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other nonprofits, humanitarian nutritionists focus on resolving problems within the food supply system for regions affected by famine or widespread malnutrition.
In addition, nutritionists often work one-on-one with patients who are recovering from major medical problems, such as heart attacks or managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
Meeting Food Scientist Education Requirements
The first step in the process of how to become a food scientist is to earn your undergraduate degree. Food science is a multidisciplinary field. It combines aspects of chemistry, nutritional science and biology. Some universities may offer a specific food science degree, but a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences can provide many of the same academic foundations for earning an advanced degree.
While you work toward your bachelor’s degree, look for opportunities to grow and learn beyond the classroom. Some employers can appreciate recent graduates who has demonstrated on-campus involvement in clubs and other organizations. As a student, you might want to look for groups that are relevant to your personal and professional interests to gain experience.
In addition, you could consider exploring internship opportunities at relevant jobsites, such as food manufacturing facilities or agricultural establishments. An internship can give you the chance to see food science in a practical setting and build professional connections.
How To Become a Food Scientist With a Professional Certification
Investing in continuing education is a core component of professional development in any field with high qualifications. Obtaining voluntary certifications is an excellent way to demonstrate commitment to your profession as you pursue job opportunities and career advancement.
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) offers a number of certification options for professionals. These include the Certified Professional – Food Safety (CP-FS) credential and the Certified in Comprehensive Food Safety (CCFS) credential.2
Earning a Graduate Degree
It’s possible to land work in the field with just a bachelor’s degree. However, if you would like to pursue a university research position or an advanced role as a food scientist, you may need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree.1
Time of completion for a master’s degree program will depend on your schedule of classes. A doctoral program will vary in the time it takes to complete it based on the research you conduct for your dissertation and the demands of your specific program.
Landing Your First Food Science Position
While you look for a job in the food science field, it can be helpful to join a professional organization such as the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The IFT has an online Career Development resource, which includes a job board.3 Other professional organizations include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH).
You can also check your local or state board of health for job opportunities, as well as the USA Jobs website — an official federal government property. This last website posts federal food facility inspection and research jobs.
You can also use the following tips to help you land your first food-science related job:
- Follow major food companies on social media to stay on top of new opportunities.
- Ask for letters of recommendation from your professors.
- Connect with food science alumni via your college network.
- Thoroughly research companies you are invited to interview at.
If you have your sights set on a career in food science, you can begin your studies at Grand Canyon University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology. Our Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences can prepare you to begin your career in food science and continue your education. To learn more about our college and degree programs, fill out the form on this page.
2 National Environmental Health Association. (n.d.). Credentials. National Environmental Health Association. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
Approved by the director of nutrition and dietetics of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology on Aug. 11, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.