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Food Scientist

Food scientists investigate the chemical, physical, microbiological, nutritional, and sensory nature of food. They work on developing, processing, preserving, packaging, marketing, and distributing ingredients and food products.

Also Known As

Analytical Chemist, Carbohydrate Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Flavour Chemist, Food Chemist, Food Engineer, Food Microbiologist, Lipid Chemist, Organic Chemist, Protein Chemist, Research Scientist, Sensory 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

  • 2121.1: Biologists

2006 NOC-S

  • C021: Biologists and Related Scientists

2011 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists
Duties
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Food scientists solve problems and challenges in making food safe, nutritious, delicious, and sustainable. 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 specialty.

In general, food scientists work in 5 areas.

Basic and applied researchers study:

  • Food structure and composition
  • Food production
  • The changes foods undergo in storage and processing

New or modified theories lead to better ways to develop safe, nutritious, and sustainable foods. 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 scientists:

  • Develop foods with new or improved taste, texture, or colour
  • Create healthier and safer products with longer shelf lives
  • Create processing methods to produce new products

Product development scientists often work closely with marketing personnel or customers. They also work for companies that develop ingredients or processing equipment for the food industry.

Quality assurance scientists check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing. They check 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
  • Do product analysis

Processing scientists:

  • Develop production specifications
  • Schedule processing operations
  • Evaluate processing and storage operations in processing plants
  • Work with engineers and plant operators

Regulatory scientists audit or inspect food-processing operations, investigate food-borne illness outbreaks, and coordinate 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 Preventative Control Plans. These include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Food scientists work in different environments. Those who manage a team and plan and write proposals work mainly in an office setting. Those who do basic and applied research work in laboratories and pilot plant settings.

Food scientists who work in food processing and quality control are most often employed by production plants. Those employed in processing plants may work shifts that include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Food scientists most often work with a team. Team members may include different food science specialists as well as government officials, marketing and sales personnel, investors, academics, process and production engineers, chefs, and food technologists.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists

2006 NOC: 2121.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Food scientists need:

  • Organizational skills
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Communication and public-speaking skills
  • The ability to work as a team member
  • Creative problem-solving abilities
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Flexibility
  • A capacity for details

They should enjoy:

  • Being analytical to draw conclusions from tests and experiments
  • Having variety in their work
  • 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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 25 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and Feb 15, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Attention to detail
Tasks: Supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists
Work under pressure
Tasks: Monitor and compile research results
Overtime required
Teleworking Information: Remote work available
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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, 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 to teach at a university. A PhD is also an asset for senior positions in food safety, ingredient and product development, and innovation in large companies.

Food scientists must understand and keep up to date with relevant legislation, regulations, and standards.



To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Agrologist

Agrologists provide advice and services related to agricultural and environmental science and technology. They apply scientific principles and practices to the cultivation, production, utilization and improvement of plants and animals, and the management of associated resources.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Agrology Profession Act and Agrology Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) is mandatory if you meet identified educational and competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Only registered members may call themselves a Professional Agrologist or Agrologist in Training.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Agrologist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2023

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 manufacturing)
  • Beverages (including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks)
  • Vegetables
  • Sugar
  • Specialty foods
  • Ingredient or equipment supply

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

Food scientists may be employed in public administration or educational services. They may work overseas as consultants with international food agencies. These agencies include, among others:

Most new graduates start work in junior positions in food quality, product development, production, or safety. 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 who work for federal and provincial government agencies may start as technicians and advance to positions with more responsibilities, as scientists or supervisors. A master’s degree may be needed for advancement.

Research and teaching positions in post-secondary schools generally require a doctoral degree, particularly in universities. Doctors (PhD) also work for big companies, where they manage specific projects.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group, 79.3% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Food scientists’ salaries vary widely depending on their qualifications and the employer.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121
Average Wage
$46.17
Per Hour
Average Salary
$91,023.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $55.00 $34.71 $33.00
Overall $24.00 $70.91 $46.17 $46.86
Top $26.00 $101.09 $60.62 $58.00

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
32%
32%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
47%
47%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
19%
19%
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 22, 2023

Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) website: www.albertaagrologists.ca

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

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

Updated Mar 22, 2023. 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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