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Your taste buds can help you earn a paycheck if you're a professional food taster. If you're what's known as a "super-taster," you've got more taste buds than most people --- but that doesn't necessarily improve your food-tasting ability. Your acute sense of taste may pick up minute flavours that the average person wouldn't taste. In most cases, food tasting is geared toward creating products that average people want to buy.
Professional food tasters are usually employed in the food science and technology field. If your position is graded as "technician," the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics found that pay ranged between £14,124 and £34,190 in 2010. However, if your position is graded as "scientist" or "technologist," pay ranged between £22,314 and £69,004 for 2010.
Food Science and Technology
To be a food scientist or technologist, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in agricultural science, according to the bureau. Certain institutions, particularly those of higher learning, require you to also have a master's or doctoral degree in that field. However, if "food taster" is part of your job description, the cost of your advanced education is justified by salary prospects that are nearly double that of food technicians. Salaries increase for food scientists and technologists in metropolitan areas -- but the cost of living increases as well.
Food Science Technicians
Although you don't need a bachelor's degree to be a food science technician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technicians usually have associate degrees or certificates in applied science. The salary prospects aren't as high as those of food scientists, but you can still make decent money, depending on your geographic location. As of 2010, food science technicians in the state of New Jersey, for example, averaged £30,660 for 2010. New Mexico technicians averaged the next best wages at £30,017.
Nature of Work
As a professional food taster, you must be willing and able to taste whatever food you're expected to taste by the company for which you work. For example, you may not like bananas, but as long as you're not allergic to them, you may be expected to taste products made with them. Training courses in how to taste foods are offered as part of your job -- it's essential that everyone tasting the food follows the same steps so that results are accurately reported. Possible unwanted weight gain may occur, as eating is a part of your job description. However, on a positive note, you may end up spending less of your salary on food outside of work, as your job involves eating free food.
- U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010: Food Scientists and Technologists
- U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010: Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
- U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Science Technicians
- "The Guardian," A Working Life: The Food Taster; Jill Insley; June 2010
- FoxNews.com, Professional Tasters Eat and Drink For A Living; Catherine Donaldson-Evans; January 2004
- Burke/Triolo Productions/Stockbyte/Getty Images