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Food Scientist

Food scientists investigate the chemical, microbiological, physical and sensory nature of food, and apply their knowledge in the development, processing, preserving, packaging, distributing and storing of foodstuffs.

Related Video(s)
Food Scientist (6:04)

  • Avg. Salary $84,973.00
  • Avg. Wage $45.86
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 1,600
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Biological Scientist, Research Scientist

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Food Scientist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Biologists
NOC code: 2121.1
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct ecological and environmental impact studies and to prepare reports, and to develop new practices in biological research

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working with instruments and equipment to conduct experiments in plant and animal growth, heredity and breeding

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to advise on issues related to biological processes and research and the development of new products; may supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Food scientists may work in research, processing and product development or management. Their job titles often reflect their area of specialization (for example, food chemist, food microbiologist, food engineer).

In general, food scientists work in 5 areas:

  • basic research - studying the structure and composition of food, or the changes foods undergo in storage and processing. For example, research scientists may develop new sources of protein, or search for factors that affect the flavour, texture or appearance of foods.
  • applied research and development - developing new processing methods and new or improved foods to create healthier and safer food products with a longer shelf life. Research and development scientists often work very closely with marketing personnel or customers.
  • quality assurance - checking raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing, and finished products for safety, quality and nutritional value. Food scientists in this field also may develop quality assurance programs, inspect processing operations, develop and improve packaging and storage methods, or conduct product analysis.
  • processing - developing production specifications, scheduling processing operations, evaluating processing and storage operations in processing plants, and working with engineers and plant operators.
  • regulatory - inspecting food processing operations, investigating food borne illness outbreaks and co-ordinating recalls. For related information, see the Agricultural Commodity Inspector occupational profile.

To ensure food safety, food scientists develop, implement and monitor Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Food scientists generally work in offices, laboratories and processing plants. Those employed in processing plants may work shifts that include evenings, weekends and holidays.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Food scientists need the following characteristics:

  • good organizational skills
  • a high degree of intellectual curiosity
  • strong communication and public speaking skills
  • the ability to work as a member of a team
  • creative problem solving abilities
  • excellent interpersonal skills.

They should enjoy:

  • synthesizing information to develop innovative approaches to problems
  • using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision
  • supervising the work of others.
Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 13, 2016

The minimum education requirement for food scientists is a 4-year bachelor's degree in a related discipline, such as food science, biochemistry, chemistry or microbiology. Advancement opportunities are best for those who have a related master's degree. A doctoral degree (PhD) generally is required for independent research positions, university teaching positions and executive positions in companies.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Concordia University of Edmonton

The King's University


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

University of Lethbridge

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Most companies involved in food and beverage processing or manufacturing employ food scientists. Major sectors in Alberta's food processing industry include:

  • meat and poultry slaughter and processing
  • dairy processing
  • cereal grains and their products (including flour, cereal, pasta and snack foods)
  • bakery and confectionery goods
  • vegetable oil refining and product manufacturing
  • soft drink manufacturing
  • brewing, winemaking and distilling
  • vegetable processing
  • sugar manufacturing
  • specialty foods manufacturing.

Food scientists may work in research and development, quality assurance, inspection, management, or production or processing areas (in food plants). Retail food chains employ food scientists to develop food safety programs.

Food scientists also may be employed in the Public Administration or Educational Services industries, or work overseas as consultants with international food agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), PLENTY Canada or Global Affairs Canada.

Most new graduates start work as technicians, often in junior positions. Once they have gained experience, they can move into:

  • supervisory or administrative levels of quality assurance, inspection and regulation
  • production management trainee positions leading to plant supervisory positions
  • marketing and sales
  • new product development, and process research and development
  • regulatory positions with federal and provincial government agencies.

Food scientists employed by federal and provincial government agencies may advance from laboratory technician positions to scientist or supervisory positions. A master's degree may be required for advancement.

Research and teaching positions in post-secondary schools generally require a doctoral degree, particularly in universities.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Food scientists' salaries vary considerably depending on the scientist's qualifications and the employer.

Biologists and related scientists
NOC code: 2121

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.50 $54.74 $33.14 $31.25
Overall $27.99 $68.42 $45.86 $43.04
Top $33.00 $106.05 $61.02 $56.29

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

33%
33%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

16%
16%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Foods
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 13, 2016

Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) website: www.cifst.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 09, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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