Food scientists use chemistry, microbiology and engineering to examine and refine the processes by which food is sourced and made in order to enhance nutrition and safety. They are analyzers and innovators that play an important role in maintaining and expanding the nation’s food supply.
Food scientists must be analytical, detail-oriented, and knowledgeable. They must also be skilled communicators, efficient problem-solvers, and good decision-makers. Their responsibilities include analyzing the nutritional content of food, collecting and analyzing research data, , and overseeing food quality and safety regulations. Food scientists also discover new food sources and research ways to make processed foods safe and healthy, as well as develop new products, coordinate product packaging and shipments, and write product information sheets for menu or labels.
Many food scientists work in basic or applied research and development; basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which crops and livestock grow; applied research seeks to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products. Entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science with a concentration in food science, with higher-level positions usually requiring a master’s. Job growth for food scientists is projected to grow 7% between 2018 and 2028.