Food scientist or food technologist

Science, mathematics and statistics
Discover Produce

Career outlook for food scientist or food technologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would test food for safety and quality and find ways to keep food fresh for longer. Or you would invent new processes and products, such as fat-free food.

You’d help to develop a wide range of products in the food and drink industry and make sure they are safe for consumers.

As a food scientist, you would use scientific techniques to:

  • Get accurate nutritional information for food labels
  • Investigate ways to keep food fresh, safe and attractive
  • Find ways of producing food more quickly and cheaply
  • Test the safety and quality of food

As a food technologist, you would plan the production of food and drink products.

For example, you would:

  • Blend together new ingredients to invent new recipes and ideas
  • Modify foods, for example, to create fat-free products
  • Conduct experiments and produce sample products
  • Design the processes and machinery to make products in large quantities

Some jobs, such as doing research for a supermarket chain, may involve quality control as well as product development.

You’d need to explain your ideas to other scientists and factory staff, and be confident in reporting any problems with processes. You need to meet strict health and hygiene rules and food production regulations.

You would also gain knowledge and experience of areas like chemical engineering, production planning, market and consumer research, and financial management.

Working conditions


You will often work 9am to 5pm but in some jobs shift work is common to cover production runs.


As a food scientist you could work in laboratories, research departments, or quality inspection and control on production lines. As a food technologist, you may often spend time in factories monitoring production processes and machinery operations.


This role can include travelling to warehouses, distribution centres and suppliers’ factories.

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You need a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) in Food Science or Food technologies or a related science subject.

You can enter a Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers including science subjects, preferably chemistry, or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

Most employers and courses will require:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science subjects such as chemistry, biology/human biology, physics.

Health and food technologies may also be of value.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show scientific skills and an interest in food and drink such as Skills for Work Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5) or Food and Drink (SCFQ level 5).  

Once qualified it may be helpful to become a member of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.