Food technologists research and develop new processing and distribution techniques for food products. They make sure products are safe and nutritious for human consumption by employing specialized packaging methods and recommending storage and preparation procedures. A person who wants to become a food technologist usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a nutrition-related scientific discipline and gain experience in entry-level positions. A qualified individual can become a food technologist in a processing plant, a private research laboratory, or a government food safety agency.
A high school student who wants to become a food technologist can begin preparing for college and an eventual career by studying nutrition and anatomy. High school courses in biology and chemistry are helpful for introducing a student to basic scientific concepts and lab research techniques. If a student does not have access to classes specifically aimed at human health and nutrition, he or she can study the subjects online or at the library. Near graduation, he or she can begin looking into four-year programs at accredited universities.
Many schools offer degree programs in food technology and food science. If such a program is not offered, a degree in agricultural science, biology, or applied chemistry can provide much of the same type of instruction. As an undergraduate, a student learns about the history of food science and current trends in the industry. He or she usually has the chance to participate in lab courses to gain hands-on experience with microbiology and chemistry experiments.
After earning a degree, an individual can look into entry-level opportunities to become a food technologist in many different settings. Manufacturing and processing plants, government inspection agencies, and agricultural development firms generally offer the most openings for new workers. Once a person is able to land a job, he or she can expect to spend several months in formal on-the-job training. Experienced technologists and scientists introduce the new worker to detailed procedures and techniques.
With time, a worker may be given more responsibilities and allowed to start working with more autonomy on projects. Some regions and employers require technologists to pass certification exams before they can work entirely unsupervised. After completing the training required to become a food technologist and gaining experience in the field, an individual may have the chance to advance within his or her company. Experienced, skilled technologists may be able to become project leaders and head supervisors in time.