Food scientist qualifications

Updated November 21, 2016

Food scientists play a vital role in maintaining a country's food supply by helping to ensure agricultural productivity and food safety. Through their research, food scientists work to improve the foods we eat today. Some people believe that food science may one day help solve the world's hunger problem, because food scientists are working to find ways to mass produce food that is both cheaper and healthier.


The majority of jobs in the farming and food processing industry require a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, physics or engineering, but a master's or doctoral degree is usually required for food scientists, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Students who want to become food scientists need to take classes on topics such as food chemistry, analysis, microbiology, engineering and processing.

Job Qualifications

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, food scientists need to be able to work independently or in a team environment and be able to speak and write with clarity. The majority of food scientists also need to develop a solid understanding of basic business principles and statistical techniques. In addition, an advanced knowledge of computers may be required for some food scientists in order to be able to effectively analyse biological and chemical processing data.

Certifications and Licenses

Some states require food scientists to have a special license. Requirements vary from state to state, but normally include a bachelor's degree and a certain amount of credit hours in food science, a predetermined time period working for a licensed scientist, and successful completion of an exam. To obtain certification in soil science, you need to have a bachelor's degree in soil science as well as five years of experience working with a soil scientist (or a graduate degree plus three years' experience).

Government Jobs

Food scientists normally work for companies in the food-processing industry, universities, or the government. Many government-employed food scientists research, test and develop new food sources or chemical compositions that can be combined to mimic foods and are responsible for enforcing government safety regulations. Government food scientists also analyse food to figure out the levels of vitamins and nutrients and find ways to make improvements to or remove harmful substances from food.

Non-government Jobs

Food scientists who work for companies in the food-processing industry or at universities work to develop and/or improve different types of food products, and use their knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering, microbiology and biotechnology to create more efficient means to better preserve, pack, store and deliver foods. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for agricultural and food scientists is expected to grow by 18 per cent between 2008 and 2018.

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