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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.

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) 
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.


2006 NOC: 2121.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


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


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

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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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

Traits & Skills
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

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 11 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and Nov 03, 2022.

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.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Teleworking Information: Remote work available
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS Excel
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS PowerPoint
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS Word
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS Outlook
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • 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, 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.

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 31, 2019
  • Certification Not Regulated

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.

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.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Food scientists’ salaries vary considerably depending on the scientist’s 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
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

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

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

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
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:

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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