The career of a food scientist is an exciting one filled with wide-ranging opportunities. It does, however, take a considerable amount of education and training to become a food scientist. Individuals can expect to attend a four-year university as a minimum to work in this field and some positions even require master’s or doctorate degrees.
All food scientists must complete high school or its equivalent prior to moving on to the rest of their education. Some helpful courses to take while in high school include mathematics, home economics and science classes. These studies will be prevalent throughout the rest of food scientist training as well as in the career itself. Business and computer courses are also helpful in preparation for this career. Any independent studies or research projects that are offered by the school are also useful in a food scientist’s education. A part-time job in the food industry is also beneficial, especially if the position provides ServSafe training and any other education.
After high school, a food scientist education must include attending a four-year university in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree in this area. Various majors apply to this career including food science, agricultural science and related fields. Students can expect to learn about nutrition, food engineering, crop science and many other food-related subjects in these majors. Other science fields including chemistry, physics and biology are also qualifying programs for this career. The cost of this degree ranges from $6,500 to $40,000 annually, depending upon the university. Lower fees are available at state universities in which the student resides.
Not all food scientist jobs require a master’s degree, but positions in the government, large corporations and universities may require advanced credentials. A master’s degree in food science also opens the doors to further opportunities with better pay. Students continue learning about food through water evaluation, sensory evaluation, sanitation and many other advanced courses of study. The average cost of a master’s degree is $14,825, though these fees vary depending upon the educational institution attended. The food science master’s degree can be obtained online through some schools.
Most food scientist jobs do not require certification. It is available for those who wish to add it to their professional credentials. A Certified Food Scientist credential is available through the Institute of Food Technologists. The testing fee for non members is $750, while members must pay $550 to take the exam. Two examination periods are offered each year. Following either the bachelor’s and master’s degree, food scientists can also strive to maintain an academic and professional edge by obtaining regular continuing education credits. These can be obtained through community seminars, college credits and other opportunities.
Food scientists require extensive training to excel at their careers. The cost and time of this education is considered worth it when lucrative positions are readily available. Some scientists even go on to obtain their PhD degrees. This type of education also prepares scientists for jobs in many other scientific fields from disease research to federal food regulation.