A food technologist education is filled with two solid requirements. Food technologists must obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent before moving on to higher education. A bachelor’s degree is the only other mandatory requirement for most positions. Some food technologists, however, do further their educations with more schooling.
During high school, food technologists can prepare for their college careers with a variety of helpful electives. Some of these include nutrition courses, health, and various sciences such as biology and chemistry. Communications classes are beneficial to this career, as are computer courses and math electives. Schools sometimes offer independent studies that these students can take advantage of regarding food and chemistry as well. High school students can also gain valuable experience by working part-time in the food industry which enables them to list food experience on their resumes as well as train in ServSafe programs.
Upon graduating high school, food technologist training continues in higher education programs. Most students opt to attend a four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in food technology or related studies. Agricultural science, biology, and other similar topics are good options as a major for food technologists. Their training should include a variety of lab work as well as studies regarding food engineering, nutrition and cutting-edge science topics. Students can expect to spend four to five years completing this training, which costs between $6,500 and $40,000 annually. Private and out-of-state schools cost much more than state universities and schools in the state in which the student resides.
Most food technologists do not go on to complete their master’s degree program unless it is for a specific job they seek, such as the promotion to a research position. Completing this educational step costs an average of $14,825 annually, but it does offer the advantage of upward mobility, an increase in pay and many other benefits. During master’s program training, food technologist students learn more in-depth information about food and science topics, such as sanitation and water evaluation. They can also select a specialty to familiarize themselves with in order to study a narrower scope of information and make themselves more marketable.
Food technologists generally do not require any form of certification. For those interested in obtaining some type of certified credential, however, it is available. It is known as the Certified Food Scientist credential and it can be obtained through the Institute of Food Technologists. The fee for taking this exam and obtaining this credit costs $750 for people who are not members of the IFT, though members do receive a $200 discount. In addition to certification, food technologists can stay abreast of relevant information and advancements in their field by taking occasional continuing education credits in their communities or online as they are available.
The training to become a food technologist is not as extensive as the path toward a career as a food scientist. It does, however, overlap, allowing students to pursue further education and food scientist status if they choose to do so.