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Food Scientist

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

  • Avg. Salary $92,613.00
  • Avg. Wage $48.26
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Research Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Biologists (2121.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Biologists and Related Scientists (C021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
  • 2016 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Food Scientist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Biologists
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 Mar 31, 2019

Food scientists may work in research, processing and product development, food safety, or management. Their job titles, such as food chemist, food microbiologist, or food engineer, often reflect their areas of specialization.

In general, food scientists work in 5 areas:

  • Basic research - studying the structure and composition of food, food production, 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
  • Food process and product development - developing new processing methods and new or improved foods for things like taste or appearance, or creating healthier and safer food products with longer shelf lives. Product development scientists often work closely with marketing personnel or customers. They also work for companies that sell ingredients or processing equipment to the food industry, to evaluate the functionality of the process or ingredient in the customer’s product or process
  • 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, prepare for third-party audits, inspect processing operations, develop and improve packaging and storage methods, or do 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 - auditing or inspecting food-processing operations, investigating food-borne illness outbreaks and co-ordinating recalls. For related information, see the Agricultural Commodity Inspector and Public Health Inspector occupational profiles

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Food scientists need:

  • Organizational skills
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Communication and public-speaking skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team
  • Creative problem-solving abilities
  • Excellent interpersonal skills

They should enjoy:

  • Synthesizing information from different disciplines (such as engineering, chemistry or biology) to develop innovative approaches to problems
  • Using instruments and equipment to perform precision tasks
  • Supervising the work of others
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

The minimum education requirement for food scientists is a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, such as food science and technology, 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 and university teaching positions. A PhD is also an asset for senior positions in food safety and product development in large 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.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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
  • Dairy
  • Grains and their products (including flour, cereal, pasta and snack foods)
  • Bakery and confectionery goods
  • Vegetable oils (including refining and product manufacturing)
  • Beverages (including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks manufacturing)
  • Vegetables
  • Sugar
  • Specialty foods
  • Ingredient or equipment supply

Food scientists may work in research and development, quality assurance, inspection, management or production. They also may be employed in 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. They may work overseas as consultants with international food agencies. These can include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), PLENTY Canada, Global Affairs Canada and others.

Most new graduates start work as technicians, often in junior positions. With more 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
  • Research and development of new products or processes
  • Regulatory positions with federal and provincial government agencies

Food scientists employed by federal and provincial government agencies may advance from laboratory technicians to positions as scientists or supervisors. 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.

Food scientists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2121: Biologists and related scientists. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Biologists and related scientists

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 $23.08 $53.84 $35.12 $32.21
Overall $32.45 $67.40 $48.26 $50.11
Top $36.06 $110.04 $65.88 $62.26

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
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

11%
11%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

14%
14%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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