Food scientist or food technologist

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

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

Hours

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

Environment

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.

Travel

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

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Working as part of a team
  • Conducting experiments
  • Being logical
  • Researching and investigating
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

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.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

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

Qualifications

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.