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Food Science Technician Careers

What Does a Food Science Technician Do

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from typical agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.

Duties

Specific duties of these technicians vary with their specialty.

Agricultural science technicians typically do the following:

  • Follow protocols to collect, prepare, analyze, and properly store crop or animal samples
  • Operate farm equipment and maintain agricultural production areas to conform to scientific testing parameters
  • Examine animal and crop specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems
  • Measure ingredients used in animal feed and other inputs
  • Prepare and operate laboratory testing equipment
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results

Food science technicians typically do the following:

  • Collect and prepare samples in accordance with established procedures
  • Test food, food additives, and food containers to ensure that they comply with established safety standards
  • Help food scientists with food research, development, and quality control
  • Analyze chemical properties of food to determine ingredients and formulas
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results
  • Prepare and maintain quantities of chemicals needed to perform laboratory tests
  • Maintain a safe, sterile laboratory environment

Agricultural and food science technicians often specialize by subject area. Some popular subjects are animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, and processing technology. Duties can vary considerably with the specialization, because work settings may vary.

Agricultural science technicians who work in private industry typically focus on increasing the productivity of crops and animals. These workers may keep detailed records, collect samples for analyses, ensure that samples meet proper safety and quality standards, and test crops and animals for disease or to otherwise confirm the results of scientific experiments.

Food science technicians who work in private industry typically evaluate food and crops while investigating new production or processing techniques. They also ensure that products will be fit for distribution or are produced as efficiently as expected. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.

How To Become a Food Science Technician

Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. Many positions require a bachelor’s degree. For those positions requiring only a high school diploma, technicians typically need to have previous work experience. Technicians often receive on-the-job training that may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.

Education

Students interested in this occupation should take as many high school science and math classes as possible. A solid background in applied chemistry, biology, physics, math, and statistics is important. Knowledge of how to use spreadsheets and databases also may be necessary.

Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field from an accredited college or university. Many agricultural and food science technician positions require a bachelor’s degree. While in college, prospective technicians learn through a combination of technical instruction and hands-on experiences, such as internships.

Some agricultural and food science technicians successfully enter the occupation with a high school diploma but typically need related work experience and on-the-job training that may last a year or more. 

A background in the biological or chemical sciences is important for most agricultural and food science technicians. Students may find it helpful to take courses in biology, chemistry, plant or animal science, and agricultural engineering as part of their programs. Many schools offer internships, cooperative-education, and other programs designed to provide hands-on experience and enhance employment prospects.

Training

Agricultural and food science technicians typically undergo on-the-job training. Various federal government regulations outline the types of training needed for technicians, which varies according to the work environment and specific job requirements. Training may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must conduct a variety of observations and on-site measurements, all of which require precision and accuracy.

Communication skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must be able to understand and give clear instructions, keep detailed records, and, occasionally, write reports.

Critical-thinking skills. Agricultural and food science technicians reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve food quality and must test products for a variety of safety standards.

Interpersonal skills. Agricultural and food science technicians need to work well with others. They may supervise agricultural and food science workers and receive instruction from scientists or specialists, so effective communication is critical.

Physical stamina. Agricultural and food science technicians who work in manufacturing or agricultural settings may need to stand for long periods, lift objects, and generally perform physical labor.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Workers who enter the occupation with only a high school diploma often must have years of experience in a related occupation during which they develop their knowledge of agriculture or manufacturing processes. For more information, see the profiles on food and tobacco processing workers and agricultural workers.

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Average Salary
$36,612
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
39,217
Job Openings

Average Salary for a Food Science Technician

Food Science Technicians in America make an average salary of $36,612 per year or $18 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $47,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $28,000 per year.
Average Salary
$36,612
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Newark, NJ
Salary Range43k - 75k$57k$57,452
Southampton, NY
Salary Range42k - 72k$55k$55,408
Salinas, CA
Salary Range40k - 66k$52k$51,504
Mayagez, PR
Salary Range30k - 44k$37k$36,852
$30k
$75k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Food Science Lab Technician
Food Science Lab Technician
Kelly Services
Kelly Services
06/28/2021
06/28/2021
$37,56606/28/2021
$37,566
Food Science Lab Technician
Food Science Lab Technician
Kelly Services
Kelly Services
03/15/2021
03/15/2021
$41,74003/15/2021
$41,740
Food Science Lab Technician
Food Science Lab Technician
Kelly Services
Kelly Services
12/15/2020
12/15/2020
$35,47912/15/2020
$35,479
Food Science Technician
Food Science Technician
Echo Lake Foods, Inc.
Echo Lake Foods, Inc.
04/28/2020
04/28/2020
$67,87004/28/2020
$67,870
Food Science Technician
Food Science Technician
Echo Lake Foods, Inc.
Echo Lake Foods, Inc.
04/07/2020
04/07/2020
$75,00004/07/2020
$75,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Food Science Technician Demographics

Gender

female

50.8 %

male

47.5 %

unknown

1.6 %

Ethnicity

White

63.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.4 %

Black or African American

9.5 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.7 %

Gujarati

16.7 %

Hindi

16.7 %
See More Demographics

Food Science Technician Education

Majors

Biology
10.2 %

Degrees

Bachelors

65.3 %

Masters

16.3 %

Certificate

8.2 %

Top Colleges for Food Science Technicians

1. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,555
Enrollment
30,360

2. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708

3. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

4. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,402
Enrollment
30,698

5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

6. University of Georgia

Athens, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,830
Enrollment
29,474

7. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

8. California State University - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,749
Enrollment
24,163

9. University of Delaware

Newark, DE • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,680
Enrollment
19,060

10. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,974
Enrollment
35,656
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Food Science Technician That You May Like

Sustainable Food Production Through Livestock Health Management
coursera

Learn about the impact of infectious disease on sustainable animal-based food production by understanding the science of growth, immunity, and infection and by learning the problem-solving skills needed to advance animal health and food production through optimal management practices. There is a growing global need in agricultural production for a workforce that is capable of integrating knowledge of animal health and production with an understanding of consumer preferences in the context of eco...

Basic Food Photography
udemy
4.4
(1,173)

Learn how to take delicious food photos from scratch...

Food Fermentation: The Science of Cooking with Microbes
edX (Global)

What’s living in your food? Many of the foods that we consume daily owe their distinct characteristics and flavors to microbes, specifically through a biochemical process of fermentation (using bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms to produce diverse foods). Gourmands and everyday consumers can quickly name some of the most popular fermented foods we consume—beer, yogurt, pickles—but, what about that coffee you drank this morning, or the chocolate bar you are saving for later? Through...

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Top Skills For a Food Science Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 28.1% of food science technicians listed food safety on their resume, but soft skills such as physical stamina and analytical skills are important as well.

Best States For a Food Science Technician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a food science technician. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Food science technicians make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $59,138. Whereas in Connecticut and Massachusetts, they would average $58,225 and $57,555, respectively. While food science technicians would only make an average of $57,422 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total Food Science Technician Jobs:
524
Highest 10% Earn:
$96,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Delaware

Total Food Science Technician Jobs:
206
Highest 10% Earn:
$91,000
Location Quotient:
1.26
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Massachusetts

Total Food Science Technician Jobs:
1,393
Highest 10% Earn:
$95,000
Location Quotient:
1.16
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Food Science Technician Employers

1. Sucocitrico Cutrale
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$39,043
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
8+
2. Echo Lake Foods
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$33,806
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
4+
3. Unilever
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$40,084
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
3+
4. Kelly Services
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$31,038
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
5. University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$35,093
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
6. DuPont
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$39,622
Food Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
Updated October 2, 2020