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Potential Career Paths and Salaries

Penn State food scientists enter a range of careers within the food industry or government throughout the US and around the world.

Food Science graduates lead exciting and rewarding careers. View this page to learn more about some of these people.

Potential Career Opportunities

  • Product Development: Graduates are involved in developing new food products or improving the quality, performance, and/or safety of existing products. These positions require a creative flair, sensory evaluation expertise, and the ability to work in teams.
  • Research and Development: Persons employed in research and development for a food company use their microbiology, chemistry, engineering, or nutrition skills to investigate scientific principles and phenomena as they pertain to specific food components, food products, or food processes.
  • Technical Support: Graduates in technical support combine their knowledge of raw materials and ingredients with food processing applications. Often they work closely with product development specialists in the manufacture of food products.
  • Management: Managers of manufacturing facilities are involved in the organization, operation, and development of food processing companies. Their key role is to oversee employees and operations in the processing of specific foods.
  • Quality Assurance: Quality assurance and quality control specialists analyze the components of food products and monitor the finished product for conformity to company and government standards.
  • Regulation: Graduates are involved at the state or federal government level with agencies such as the USDA, FDA, EPA, and the Patent Office. Positions include policy development, enforcing food sanitation and labeling regulations, or ensuring the safety of our food supply.
  • Extension Education: Extension educators specializing in food safety, food processing, or human nutrition use a variety of educational methods, including group meetings, workshops, mass media, and electronic methods to deliver educational information.
  • International: Many larger food companies are multinational and employ graduates with international experience or who speak a foreign language. Graduates looking to expand their horizons can be involved with helping citizens of developing nations improve their food handling and storage procedures through agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, or the Peace Corps.
  • Professional Schools: Many food science graduates continue on to attend dental school, medical school, law school,  and other professional fields using their food science education as  foundation for future studies.

Potential Salaries

Because of the heavy demand for food scientists in industry, government agencies, and research institutions, many Penn State Food Science graduates have job offers before graduation with excellent starting salaries.

According to a recent survey done by the Institute of Food Technologists, a student right out of school with B.S. degree in Food Science can expect to make $50,000. With a masters of science degree, students start with an average salary of $60,000 with significant increases likely in just a few years.

Source: Food Technology Magazine 66, No. 2 (February 2012)