Food scientist

Food technologist

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Food scientists and food technologists develop food and drink products, making sure they are safe to consume.

Salary range: £20,000 to £45,000

How to become a food scientist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

University

You’ll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • food science
  • food studies
  • food technology

Employers may also accept other subjects like chemistry or nutrition.

If you have a degree in an unrelated subject, you could study a postgraduate course like food safety or food quality management.

Experience of working in a food science or food development environment, for example through an industrial placement, may improve your career prospects.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a food technologist advanced apprenticeship then move on to a food industry technical professional degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as a food technician or lab assistant with a food manufacturer and study for further qualifications while you work.

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Further information

You can find out more about becoming a food scientist from the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of food production methods
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a food scientist, you’ll:

  • provide accurate nutritional information for food labelling
  • investigate ways to keep food fresh, safe and attractive
  • find ways to save time and money in food making
  • test the safety and quality of food

As a food technologist, you’ll:

  • blend new ingredients to invent and modify recipes
  • conduct experiments and produce sample products
  • design production processes and machinery

Working environment

You could work at a research facility or in a laboratory.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

You could work for a range of organisations involved in researching and developing new products, including:

  • food manufacturers and supermarkets
  • government and university research establishments
  • local authorities

You could improve your career prospects by getting Registered Scientist (RSci) or Chartered Scientist (CSci) status through the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

With experience you could become a project leader or manage a department like research and development or quality control. You could also move into fields like chemical engineering, agricultural research, toxicology or nutrition science.

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