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How to Establish a Career as a Food Scientist/Technologist: An Ultimate Guide

Food Scientist/Technologist

We all love potato chips, cheese, flavoured yoghurt, and many more kinds of packaged food, right? But do you know the process behind producing these products? Do you wonder how do we get all the food products? Are you interested in working in a food industry where you got to work around food processing, tasting products, create new products? If you are interested in food industries, then food science/ food engineering is the right career for you.

As a Food Scientist/ Technologist, you will monitor the manufacturing of food products in the industrial plants/ dairy plants, etc. Food products include anything and everything that we eat which come from the food processing industry other than those which directly come from a farm such as unprocessed milk and poultry. You will ensure that the quality of processed food products is good for health. You will maintain the hygiene at the processing plant, you will manage quality control, etc. As a Food Scientist, you will work to produce healthy food products at a controlled cost and good hygiene.

Why become a Food Scientist/Technologist?

Food Scientist / Technologist is a specialist who develops new food products, develops better and newer methods for food processing, analyses the food deterioration processes and works on improving the quality of food products for consumption. As a Food Engineer/ Technologist, you will be responsible for the production of food products, at two levels:

  1. Development of new products and processes: You will work within the legal framework to produce new types of food products, new flavours of processed food that are safe for human consumption. You will develop better or newer methods of processing food. You will seek approval from the Food Saety & Standards Authority of India for the product in India and similar authorities in concerned nations of exports.
  2. Regular production of existing products: You will work to ensure that the daily production of food products is done under prescribed legal and hygiene conditions. You will be responsible for the nutrition values in the products, the quality, chemical /natural flavours added, the weight of packaged products, etc.

Thus, as a Food Scientist or Technologist, you will work towards cost-effective production and commercialisation of food products. From the approval of a new product until its regular production, you will keep a track on the whole process. If there are complaints with the quality, you will do the quality check of the product, process, equipment, etc. You will also train people in the manufacturing department, the quality check department, etc.

Below are some of the specializations you may choose from –

  1. Food Engineer: Food engineer is a specialist who uses the knowledge of agriculture engineers, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering to food materials. They work to product cost effective and yet commercial methods of food products and services.  They may work towards food processes, food packaging, instrumentation or quality control.
  2. Dairy Technologist: Dairy Technologist is a type of food engineer who specialises in Dairy products. As a dairy technologist, you will work on producing new dairy products or manage a dairy. While managing a dairy you will be responsible for its production process, it’s quality control, its inventory and output.
  3. Food Quality Control Engineer: Quality control engineer is a specialist who manages the quality of produced food products. As a quality control engineer, you will oversee the production of food products, their composition, methods used, steps taken for hygiene, etc. You will test products before approving them for sales.

What does Food Scientist/Technologist do?

As a Food Scientist or Food technologist, there will have several responsibilities under you including the following:

  1. You will check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing.
  2. You will also do quality, safety and nutritional value check on the final products.
  3. You will inspect food processing areas and ensure that the plant is complying with all government regulations, safety and sanity standards are maintained, and there is proper waste management.
  4. You will evaluate food processing storage operations. You will also develop or assist in developing quality assurance programs.
  5. You will work on new methods that can help you improve the chemical composition of food, flavour, colour, texture, nutritional value, etc.
  6. You will stay up to date with new regulations, norms, laws related to food science in India and abroad where your products are exported.
  7. You will conduct research and experiments to improve the lives of Dairy animals, meat animals, chickens, etc.
  8. You will conduct research and experiments to improve the productivity of plants producing raw materials.
  9. You will work to create new food products. You will also work to create new ways to develop existing products including process, packaging and delivery system.
  10. You will keep yourself updated with new scientific development happening across the world in the dairy field.
  11. You will communicate your new scientific research to the fellow community, food producers, government and public.
  12. Regularly travel to the facilities to oversee the implementation of new projects.
  13. You will do basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which new products can be produced.
  14. You will work with little supervision, forming your hypotheses and developing your research methods. Also, you will often lead teams of technicians or students who help in your research.

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How to become a Food Scientist/Technologist – Eligibility criteria

After Class 11-12, you can go for:

  • B. E
  • B. Tech
  • B. Sc
  • B. V. Sc.

After completing your graduation, you can go for:

  • M. E
  • M. Tech
  • M. Sc
  • M. V. Sc.

If you wish to go for further studies and research, you can go for a Ph.D in ‘Food Science and Nutrition’, ‘Food Science and Technology’ or related disciplines.

Various private, as well as public educational establishments, offer related courses on:

  • Food Engineering
  • Food Technology
  • Food Sciences
  • Food Sciences & Technology
  • Food Biochemistry
  • Food Biotechnology
  • Food Chemistry & Nutrition
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Science & Nutrition
  • Food Biotechnology (Engineering) 
  • Food Processing Technologies
  • Food Production
  • Food Science & Post Harvest Technologies
  • Food and Nutrition

Educational Fees

The educational fees for becoming a Food Scientist/Technologist in India depend on the course and the institute. Here is a general overview:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Food Science/Technology – The fees for a 4-year undergraduate course in Food Science/Technology range from Rs. 1-3 lakhs per annum.
  • Master’s degree in Food Science/Technology – The fees for a 2-year postgraduate course in Food Science/Technology range from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakhs per annum.
  • Ph.D. in Food Science/Technology – The fees for a doctoral program in Food Science/Technology vary from institute to institute, but typically range from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh per annum.

Job Opportunities

  • Dairy farms, poultry farms, meat farms are the biggest recruiters of Food Scientist and Technologists. At the entry level, you may join at the role of Dairy/Poultry Plant Supervisor or as a Graduate Engineer Trainee.
  • If you start your career with an FMCG or food industries (bakery, confectionery, etc.), then they will hire you are a Trainee Microbiologist or Trainee Food Technologist.
  • After you finish the Master’s degree, you can even join universities and colleges at the entry level position of Junior Professor or Assistant Professor.
  • After a Master’s degree, research laboratories and research farms will hire you as a research associate officer with the lowest grade.

You can find job opportunities at the following facilities:

  • Dairy farms, Poultry farms, etc.
  • Dairy cooperatives like Amul, Mother Dairy, Saras, etc.
  • Ice cream companies like Vadilal, Kwality Wall’s, Havmor, etc.
  • Research and development agencies.
  • Agriculture and Dairy Colleges and Universities.
  • Quality control department of each State Government.
  • Milk Product Manufacturing companies.
  • FMCG and food production companies.

Salary of an Food Scientist/Technologist

At the entry level (after your Master’s degree), you can join as a Food Scientist and earn around Rs. 20,000 to 30,000 per month. If you join as an assistant professor, then you might earn anything between Rs. 60,000 to 70,000 per month. In private industries, you would be earning anything between Rs. 20,000 – 30,000 per month.

At the junior level with a work experience of 2-5 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 25,000 to 1,00,000 per month.

At the middle level with an experience of 5-10 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 40,000 to 1,50,000 per month.

At the senior level of over ten years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 90,000 to 2,50,000 or more per month.

Career progression in Food Scientist/Technologist

The career growth in university and college states from Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.

If you join a food plant, then you join as a plant supervisor, later become an assistant manager or Plant manager. With a few years of work experience, you become a purchasing officer and then Logistics Manager and finally Quality control officer.

If you join the food industry, FMCG, etc., then you will start your career as a Trainee Microbiologist or Trainee Food Technologist. With experience, you will become Quality Assurance Executive, Assistant Manager, Senior Manager, Deputy Manager (Quality) and Production Manager. 

If you are hired as a research associate (JRF and SRF), then you will go on to become a Doctoral Research Fellow, then Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then Scientist in Progressive Grades. 

The Indian food industry can be divided into the dairy industry and other food products (meat, poultry, marine food, fruits and vegetables based food). India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, poultry, and marine products. While the Indian food industry is the 6th largest in India, its processed food section contributes around 32% of the total food industry. It is currently growing at 20% per annum. While the organic food industry will treble by 2020. These numbers indicate that the food industry in India is one of the fastest-growing industries.

Also, India is the largest producer and consumer of dairy products. In 2016, according to BusinessWire, the Indian dairy industry was worth 5,000 billion INR. Presently the organized sector constitutes only 20% of this market, 46 percent is still unorganized, and 34% is consumed locally. These data show that there is immense potential for the organized dairy industry in India. If the market doesn’t grow, the organized sector can still increase by four times. This potential means there is a high prospect for a career in this field. Ice cream market is growing at a rate of 15-20% per year, and the cheese industry is growing at a rate of over 31% per year.

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