Food is an essential part of your day-to-day life. If you’re like most people, though, you may not give a lot of thought to where that food originates. You know who does? Food scientists. These are the people who help improve food safety and food development through their work in every phase of food production.
This exciting field of work is projected to grow in the coming years. Food scientists earn a median salary of $62,910 per year, although with an advanced degree it’s possible to earn significantly more. Food science is a broad field, and there are many hot careers you can choose from if you enjoy working with food.
Did you know that different enzyme formulations can help improve the texture and elasticity of bread? You probably would if you worked in product development. The food scientists in this department are looking for ways to make the company’s offerings better. This may include improving taste or texture, improving the shelf life of products or finding ways to offer food items more inexpensively.
Product development combines science and creativity. If you work in product development, you will be working with other team members, and with experience, you may lead a team of your own.
Sensory scientists dig into the science behind why you taste specific flavors and the influence those flavors have on your mood. As a sensory scientist, you would become familiar with consumer trends regarding the appearance and texture of foods. You’ll work with different teams within a company, including marketing and product development, to ensure the food your company is selling appeals to consumers.
Sensory scientists have a solid understanding of food chemistry as well as the ability to analyze data. Many have advanced degrees in food science.
Food production is regulated by a number of state and federal agencies. Quality assurance specialists ensure the food or beverages being produced meet the quality standards set by the company, as well as those set by government agencies. As these regulations are numerous, this is a challenging position.
Ankit Rathi, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs Supervisor at Specialty Enzymes & Probiotics, says, “Quality assurance specialists need to be excellent communicators, as a significant part of the job is training employees on safety standards. This may include training workers on what to wear, how to keep food or food ingredients at appropriate temperatures and how to prevent food contamination.”
If you pursue a career in quality assurance, you also need to be an excellent problem solver. Ideally, you anticipate problems and solve them before they make their way to consumers. Problems can arise at any stage of the production process, from product development to product packaging. Quality assurance specialists ensure quality standards are met and the consumers who enjoy your products are satisfied.
Regulatory specialists help develop the rules that quality assurance specialists put into place. Many work with government agencies such as the FDA, the USDA, and the patent office. As a regulatory specialist, you may review and improve current policies or help put new policies into place.
Some regulatory specialists work in enforcement, doing inspections to ensure companies are complying with food safety policies. Some help communicate regulatory standards to consumers in a way that is understandable.
Those working in regulatory affairs must be able to communicate professionally. They also need to have a thorough understanding of food chemistry and food safety practices. It’s a fast-paced career, and one you know makes a big difference in ensuring consumer safety.
Food Plant Manager
If you enjoy solving technical problems and working with people, you may enjoy a career as a food plant manager. As a manager, you ensure everything runs smoothly. This includes resolving interpersonal conflicts as well as making sure equipment is running appropriately.
Managers may be involved with different aspects of food and beverage development, including marketing, development and operations. The success of your company relies on you and your expertise.
Food plant managers need to have a business background, and previous management experience is helpful. They must understand the food production process to effectively support the company and the employees they supervise.
Food Packaging Engineer
Food and beverage packaging has a significant impact on consumers. The look of a package must be appealing, and consumers enjoy features like resealable packaging and using products that incorporate recycled materials.
Food and beverage packaging engineers look at packaging from every angle, from marketing to the physical components. If you pursue this field, you’ll design innovative packages that improve product shelf life and consumer appeal and ensure packages meet labeling requirements and are resistant to tampering.
Food packaging engineers need an understanding of food safety, marketing and pertinent government regulations. This position requires you to think creatively and come up with unique solutions for packaging issues.
Food products and beverages don’t just end up on store shelves. Each store has to be persuaded to carry specific product. Food and beverage sales includes working with companies to get your product in retail stores and available through online retailers, increasing sales volumes by building relationships with current customers and increasing sales by promoting your product through social media.
Sales representatives need to have a thorough understanding of food science. You must be a creative thinker with a knack for connecting with people. Time management is important because you’ll be expected to juggle multiple tasks, as well as deal with pressure and solve problems creatively.
Sales roles are demanding and require confidence and motivation. They can also be lucrative, though, and with time you may end up managing your own sales team. It’s a demanding role but one that can be rewarding personally and professionally.
If you love to experiment and have an analytical mind, you may enjoy working as a food chemist, focusing on the chemical makeup of foods and beverages. You may concentrate on a particular aspect of food, such as developing flavors or enzyme formulations, or you may concentrate on the nutritional aspects of food.
Food chemists also focus on food safety, ensuring food and beverages are free of contaminants and experimenting with how food responds to different environments to ensure that foods stay safe throughout the production and delivery process.
Food chemists work for food and beverage companies, as well as independent labs for a government agency or at a university.
Author: Morgan Clarke
Morgan Walker Clarke is a writer and food aficionado from Dallas, Texas. He has 10+ years of restaurant and craft brewing experience as well as an extensive background in food science. In his spare time, he enjoys creating his own recipes for his friends and family to enjoy!
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