Achieving your goal of becoming a food scientist does not have to be too hard. There is actually a fast track. So, what is that? Well, let’s talk about it.

The basic qualification to become a food scientist is a bachelor’s degree in food science. However, many food science jobs require a Master’s or PhD degree. A graduate degree is usually required or preferred for some specialized jobs such as food chemist, food microbiologist, food engineer, cereal scientist, sensory scientist, flavor specialist, packaging specialist, you name it. Food Scientists in the US are generally paid anywhere between $50,000/year to $130,000/year depending on education and experience.

Experience is a big factor in landing some of the best jobs. In fact, many food science jobs I see posted online, are asking for at least one year experience. This is usually tough to swallow for college students without any experience, but the reality is that companies prefer to hire people who they will spend less time and money training.  

So, if you are a student with no experience in the food industry, I suggest doing at least one internship before finishing college. Don’t spend all your summers vacationing, or doing odd jobs that have nothing to do with your career field. Plan to get the relevant experience that will make you competitive when  it’s time for you to look for a job. Some programs, like my program in food systems management, will offer you up to 3 credits when you do an internship. You should take advantage of this because you will work off that tuition in a week or two of your internship. One of my students who graduated recently, completed an internship in his first year at Wright State. The company was so impressed with him, that they kept him on part time for the rest of his time in college. He was able to finish college debt-free and had a lot of technical experience that made him very marketable at the end of his program.  

My best advice to you as you plan your careers is to start with the end in mind, by always having a vision of their future self. In my college years at North Dakota State University, I kept a futuristic resume showing my qualifications, skills and experiences that I would have at a certain time in my life. In fact, I published an article in my college newspaper about what I was doing. The title of the article was “lie on your resume”. By having a clear vision of what I wanted to be, it helped me achieve the goals I wanted. Try this exercise if you have never thought of it before. Lie on your resume and then ask, what must I do to make sure it is a reality? Then, go ahead and make it happen.

Courtney Simons
Administrator
Courtney Simons is a food science professor. He holds a BS degree in food science and a Ph.D. in cereal science from North Dakota State University.
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