I’m taking Biology, what are my options in the Food Industry…..

Hey Team FoodGrads!

I’m currently studying biology at Ryerson University. I’ve  wanted to go into food science but I am not able to attend any school’s offering the program. Is it still possible for me to get into the food industry? If so, what classes should I be taking?

Feedback from the Food & Beverage FoodGrads Community;

  • I find many people people in the quality side of the food industry may have educational backgrounds in Microbiology, in lieu of a degree in Food Science. A Chemistry /Biochemistry degree can also be a fit with Quality or R&D
  • I think the most important areas to be educated in, in order to enter the industry would be Food Safety, Quality Assurance, and possibly Food Microbiology. The majority of entry level positions are in quality assurance/quality control which involve lab testing like sugar/acid testing or even microbe enumeration. Microbiology is probably the most natural entry into quality assurance and thus the food industry. If you get one of these positions, your company will often pay for you to go through food safety training (HACCP, SOPs, GMPs, FSMA, etc). Since the food industry is going through major safety changes because of the recent Food Safety Modernization Act, it is vital that you are trained in this. It’s also a huge opportunity for cracking into the industry. After you get your foot in the door, it should be easier to branch out to other aspects of the industry. It never hurts to apply for a bunch of summer internships with food companies. They will often take students from different majors. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
  • My recommendation would be to get some certifications in either HACCP or PCQI. The courses can run up to $1K and more however this must always be considered an investment in yourself and your career. Online courses are usually cheaper. I know people who have started in microbiology labs for food companies or started as QA/ QC techs and worked their way up to other positions such as QA/QC Supervisors/Managers and beyond.

All feedback DIRECTLY from professionals in the Food Industry

  • I’m a crossover from a sister science myself. I didn’t take any separate food science or micro classes but did get HACCP certified. I agree that it is very helpful. I also forged a friendship with an analytical lab who was willing to provide extra details and explanations about the types of tests they do and the data they generate. That helped me learn to set specs
  • It depends specifically what you want to do in the food industry. You can take Nutrition and then move into Food Science; it is possible to change colleges within the university. You can also do a degree in Chemistry followed by a Masters Degree in Food Science. I have also found that if people have taken business, it can help you later on as you move up. Again, it all depends on where you want to end up.
  • The student will need to understand that if they pursue a BS degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, etc., they will have to work their way up from QA Technician/ Micro Tech into their dream role. It is extremely important to obtain internships within the food industry in order to get a leg up on their competition. It’s doable! First, try to figure out what part of the food industry interests you the most.

    Is it micro testing, R&D, basic analytical testing, stepping into a management role, engineering, finance, etc? Look at some of the current job postings to get a feel for what’s out there. Obtain a BS degree, intern like crazy while in school, reflect on your experiences, and start looking for a great first job that will allow you to use your knowledge to propel you into that dream job – Kimberly Donald (Food Safety Supplier Manager at Blue Apron).

  • They can complete their Bachelors of Science and then take the online Food Science Certificate at Guelph. http://opened.uoguelph.ca/student-resources/Food-Science-Certificate
  • In the past, I’ve come across people from with a biology major working in Food fermentation, a chemical/mechanical engineer work in Food Engineering. I’d suggest you identify the role you want to have in the food industry, and then work backwards from there! Biology and/or chemistry helps landing entry level jobs in most fermentation based food companies. Also, I would suggest edx.org, they have EXTREMELY good food courses with many different focuses(chemistry, nutrition, sustainability etc). This should help understand what you really like! I learnt almost everything there, that I learnt in grad school! Hope this helps (The only thing I would add here is the need to ensure industry accepts the credibility of a program. On the FoodGrads site will be suggest programs based on industry feedback and ones that are recognized as an alternate path for members not directly linked to a food science program. There are some 2-3 day courses for HACCP, food processing at GFTC-NSF that are recognized, so we don’t want students/grads wasting their time. There are many paths to the food industry and extra courses is definitely an option).
  • You could consider the Food Science Program at Centennial College. They have a fast track option for people who already have completed a BSc. Plus if he/she really wants to break into the food industry, there is a fast track, co-op option at Centennial as well. I have lots of peers at Centennial who have prior learning and are taking advantage of the co-op opportunity the school is offering. Here is the link to the fast track/co-op program: http://www.centennialcollege.ca/programs-courses/full-time/food-science-technology-fast-track-coop/ Hope this helps!

    More feedback direct from Industry….

  • I started in the food industry as a chemical engineer with no food background. Did a lot of self study and was able to succeed among food scientists. Eventually did get a masters in Food science, as long as she/he is willing to self study anything is achievable.
  • I have a BS in Pre-Med Biology Program and have used my chemistry and microbiology skills the most within the food quality industry. I would also recommend checking out ASQ. They have a lot of certifications that help gain skills that are of value to many companies.
  • I think Durham college has a fast track food science program. I’ve heard great things about it. As a UofG Food Science major, I would recommend micro courses. We also did ‘Food Engineering’, but maybe there is something… Robyn Maloney (Quality Assurance at Sofina Foods Inc).

  • You can take a look at online courses at Michigan State. http://www.online.foodsafety.msu.edu/
  • I have a chemistry degree and work in the food industry. I have performed lab jobs, QC jobs, product development jobs, and helped in customer service with technical cases. There are many avenues into the food industry.
  • You can get training certificates for HACCP SQF PCQI from certifying body training seminars such as SAI GLOBAL – these certifications combined with your science based degree will give you an edge with companies hiring food grads.
  • Biochemical testing companies offer a great opportunity to explore the world of Food Science! Stay tuned…
  • I started in the food industry as a chemical engineer with no food background. Did a lot of self study and was able to succeed among food scientists. Eventually I did get a Masters in Food science.

Wow……this was a long one!  Was this helpful?  If you have any additional feedback to this question please leave a comment below.  If you have a different question, please send it to Nicole.  Thank you!