It is important to understand what a food scientist does before someone can decide whether she actually wants to become one. In general, food scientists work to create and raise the standards for food products. They use their educational background to improve the ways that food is preserved, processed, stored, packaged, and even delivered. Sometimes, a food scientist can work in the research sector and analyze the vitamin, mineral, and chemical make up of food or even discover or create new foods. Other times, she will work to enforce and uphold the regulations established by the government, inspect the areas where food is processed, and make sure that the highest levels of quality and safety standards are reached.
Once someone has made the decision to become a food scientist, she should begin to consider what kind of education and training she needs. Usually, the level of education that she receives depends on the kind of job she wants. For example, receiving a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science can be enough, if the job is focused on developing a product or assisting others in research projects. Someone who wants a job where she completes her own research projects or directs others in applied research, however, will likely need to earn a master’s degree or a doctorate. In addition, if an individual wants to teach others about food science on a college level, then a doctoral degree will be essential.
Again, depending on the kind of job that someone who wants to become a food scientist may seek, she can get a degree in other areas, such as biology, physics, engineering, or chemistry, and still qualify for a position in this field. Although many colleges and universities offer courses that prepare people for a general agricultural science degree, someone who wants to work in food science may have to search for a college or university that offers specialized courses in the field. For example, food chemistry, food microbiology, food analysis, and food engineering are important areas of study to those wanting to become a food scientist.
It is always a good idea to take a wide range of courses, however, in case another job presents itself in the agricultural science sector, such as one involving soil science, animal science, or plant science. Someone who plans on getting a master’s or doctoral degree should expect to complete some training in the field, research in a laboratory, and possibly a thesis or a paper based on her independent research.
The ability to work both as a member of a larger team and alone are important qualities for someone who wants to become a food scientist. Great communication skills and an understanding of statistics and the principles of business are also helpful in the profession. In all, it can be a rewarding and interesting career path.