What Can You Do With a Food Science Degree?
If you’re currently studying for a degree in food science, you’re probably wondering what careers will be available when the thyme comes (pun intended).
While there are some jobs that are directly related to a food science degree, such as a food technologist or a nutritional therapist, there are also many roles that perhaps don’t directly relate to your degree, but use many of the skills you’ve picked up along the way.
Shannon, a recent graduate at Premier Foods told us what she likes about working in food; “I love working in the food industry because of the impact you can see your work has - people buying the products that you have helped contribute to get to the supermarket shelf! It is also great to work in such a rapidly-changing industry where trends can hugely change the range of products you have, and how quickly we have to act to adapt to these trends.”
With a degree as broad as food science, there are so many different options available, and it can easily feel quite daunting trying to figure out which job is right for you. In this article we will be revealing some popular careers for food science graduates, and hopefully we can make choosing a future career in food a piece of cake!
In this role you will work closely with the production team to research and develop innovative recipes using new and existing ingredients. These recipes may need to satisfy a specific condition, such as having a low fat or low sugar content, or be suitable for a specific purpose, such as lunchtime takeout foods or ready meals.
You will need to make sure that all food products are at an acceptable safety and quality, and that all legal requirements are fulfilled.
This role demands extremely high standards of cleanliness and safety, excellent problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well in a team, as well as being creative! Although this job demands a lot, it can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you see a product you have created out on the shop floor.
If you’re good at understanding and interpreting potentially complicated facts and concepts and explaining them in a clear and informative way, then perhaps you should look at becoming a nutritional therapist.
As a nutritional therapist, you will typically work privately, helping individuals on a one-on-one basis by making personal dietary recommendations based on their personal circumstances. This could be to help healthy individuals prevent illness, or ill individuals to prevent symptoms worsening.
Quality assurance manager
Quality assurance managers are about as close as you can get to a police role in the food industry. Individuals working in quality assurance ensure that food products meet the correct standards set out in the regulations and comply to all internal and external requirements.
The role also requires you to collect and interpret data on current standards and procedures, reporting any findings to senior management with suggestions on how to improve them.
This career requires you to have a logical mindset, and be very organised and strategic, with excellent problem-solving abilities. As you get higher up in your career, leadership skills are essential, and you must be able to work well in a team in order to solve any multitude of problems that may arise!
Those who thrive in a fast-paced, busy environment may want to consider being a chef. Beware, the hours may be long and often unsociable, but for those who love to cook, this can be an incredibly rewarding career.
Although a food degree isn’t essential for this role, it can be incredibly useful to gain an understanding of the industry. Experience here is a necessity, and anything you can do to get your foot in the door will help.
Try to get as much experience as you can in the hospitality industry, be it in waiting, dishwashing etc. Being in the environment can teach you a lot about the industry and will look great on your CV!
You will most likely start off as a trainee chef/apprentice/commis when you start, where you will learn the tricks of the trade, such as how to correctly use knives and prepare food. You’ll also be expected to assist the chef de partie (section chef).
As you gain more experience you will move on to become a chef de partie yourself, then on to a sous chef (the second in command) and then finally (if you’re lucky) a head chef!
The good thing about this career is that there’s a clear progression path and most of the time and hard work really pays off.
For those looking for a more creative role, a career in food marketing might just cut the mustard.
Whether you focus on packaging, social media, consumer research or advertising, marketing encompasses many different aspects of building and maintaining the company’s brand and image, as well as marketing new and existing products on a specific selling point.
Food marketing can be quite challenging, as you’re dealing with perishable products that are often reliant on supplier conditions and changing consumer trends. However, it really is a career you can shape to your creative interests and is an excellent way to use the knowledge you have gained from your degree in a slightly unconventional way.
Procurement is about obtaining and buying items at the best price possible. In a food business this may mean purchasing ingredients, materials for packaging, or operational (e.g. electricity, machinery) or corporate (e.g. insurance, phone contracts) requirements.
In this role you must have excellent interpersonal skills, as you will be liaising with suppliers constantly to ensure that goods and services are delivered on time and at the correct price.
You should also be good at negotiation, very organised and able to adapt well to changes, as these are all skills that are frequently used in the job.
Toxicologists study toxic materials and how they affect humans, animals and the environment. They conduct studies on food, air, water and soil to determine how different chemicals and biological substances alter them and assess any risks or potential harmful effects.
To become a toxicologist, a strong science-based background is vital – there are a lot of hypotheses to test and lab reports to write! You also need to be a logical thinker with excellent written and oral communication skills, but with a background in food science, this won’t be a problem.
Other less conventional roles…
Having a graduate degree can open many doors for you beyond the obvious ones within the food industry, although many food companies such as Premier Foods, Tesco, Kraft and Nestle offer graduate schemes.
For the more business-minded among you, there will also be roles available in sales, HR, supply chain, legal and even finance!
‘What Can You Do With a Food Science Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. We have also covered art, biology, business, chemistry, communications, computer science, economics, English, engineering, fashion, finance, history, geography, law, marketing, mathematics, management, philosophy, performing arts, politics, psychology, sociology, sports and physics.
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This article was originally published in July 2019 . It was last updated in February 2023