Food Science Technologist

Also Known As
Food Science Technicians Food Techs

Food Science Technologists are part of the broader occupational groups of:

What are the roles of Food Science Technologists in Canada?

Food science is the study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food and the basic concepts of food processing. Food technology is the application of food science to the selection, preservation, processing, packaging, distribution, and use of safe food.

Food science techs work independently or provide technical support in laboratory analysis, food product development, processing, food microbiology, research or quality assurance, or regulatory positions. They usually work in a laboratory, conducting food experiments, cleaning up, and helping food scientists.

What are the main duties of Food Science Technologists in Canada?

Food science techs may work in one of four areas:

  • applied research and development – helping in the development of new processing methods and new or improved foods to meet customer requests for healthier and safer foods. In general, food science techs run tests to make sure that products meet government and industry standards and satisfy consumer needs (for example, have an long enough shelf life).
  • quality control or assurance – checking raw ingredients for freshness, maturity or stability for processing, and checking finished products for safety, quality and nutritional value. They may also develop scientifically based quality assurance programs, check processing line operations, or develop and improve packaging and storage methods.
  • processing – developing production specifications, scheduling processing operations, and evaluating processing and storage operations.
  • regulations – inspecting food processing operations.

They may have duties such as:

  • developing and testing new food products, and looking for new food sources
  • making sure quality and flavour remain consistent
  • determining the fat, sugar, vitamin, or mineral content of products
  • researching ways to improve testing, preservation, packaging, and manufacturing methods
  • enforcing health and safety regulations
  • making sure of food safety through hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) programs, taking corrective action when necessary

What are the desired traits of Food Science Technologists in Canada?

Food science techs should have good organizational skills. They should be curious and be creative when solving problems. They should enjoy using instruments and equipment with precision and enjoy analyzing data and running sampling and analysis programs. They should also have good interpersonal skills and work well as part of a team.

Where do Food Science Technologists work?

Food science techs work for the following types of organizations:

  • food and beverage processing and manufacturing companies
  • universities and colleges
  • government-run research agencies
  • private companies and consulting firms

These organizations are involved in:

  • meat and poultry slaughter and processing
  • dairy processing
  • cereal grains and their products including flour, cereal, pasta, and snack foods
  • bakery and confectionery goods
  • vegetable oil refining and product manufacturing
  • soft drink manufacturing
  • brewing, winemaking, and distilling
  • vegetable processing
  • sugar manufacturing
  • specialty foods manufacturing

Most of the jobs in the food processing industry are in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

What might the typical work conditions be?

Food science techs work in laboratories and processing plants. In some working environments, they may be required to work shifts.

Food techs generally work a standard 35 to 40 hours per week. However in some jobs, evening and weekend shifts may be required in order to meet deadlines.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Food science techs need post-secondary education in a related field such as chemical technology, chemistry, biochemistry or microbiology. There are many post-secondary programs specific to food science in Canada.

The Canadian Institute for Food Technology provides the following information about food science programs:

  • Degree programs: most schools offer a 4-year program beginning with two semesters of general science before students learn about food composition, processing technologies, and food safety. Possible elective courses are dairy technology, food packaging, and research projects. Co-op options and international exchange opportunities may also be available.
  • Diploma studies: diploma and/or certificate programs in one or more aspects of food science and technology are offered at colleges across Canada. Diploma programs typically focus on one or more aspects of food, such as food and nutrition, food analysis, and food processing.

For a list of food science programs in Canada, see http://cifst.ca/default.asp?ID=992

Many employers require HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) training and/or certification. HACCP is a food safety system that is a scientific approach to controlling microbiological, chemical, or physical hazards geared toward preventing contamination. It is followed worldwide to support the needs of a standardized food safety and quality system in a global economy. This training and certification can be done at many schools and private training organizations.

There are also short courses available on various topics within food science that may help in learning specializations to prepare for work in the field. For one example, see the public training available at the Guelph Food Technology Centre, an independent technology centre specializing in food, at http://www.gftc.ca/training-education/open-enrolment-courses. Topics include food safety and quality, research and development, food microbiology, and food safety training.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Employers may test language ability because it is important for workers to understand instructions and share information to complete tasks properly and work safely.

Food science techs use communication skills on the job in many ways:

  • They read research and analysis reports and journal articles. For example, chemical techs in the food processing industry may read articles in the Journal of Food Microbiology to learn about new developments in food science and new analysis and testing methods for detecting salmonella in food products.
  • They enter data into tables. For example, food processing techs may summarize retention times, concentration levels, and types of diluting solvents for pesticide residues found in animal and plant products.
  • They write short entries for logbooks and forms. For example, they record their observations of samples, unusual analysis results, stages of extraction, task completion times, notes on malfunctioning equipment and items requiring follow up in personal logbooks. They write comments in laboratory logbooks indicating the status of tests, instruments and sample preparations. They enter brief notes on analysis and test summary forms to explain unusual results and report their observations.
  • They discuss job tasks and other matters with supervisors and managers. For example, they get information about their roles for upcoming projects from their supervisors. They offer suggestions for improvements to current work processes and provide input and feedback on workflow, procedural changes and modifications to testing and analysis methods.

To see examples of how other Essential Skills are used by food science techs and other types of chemical techs in the workplace go to Explore Careers by Essential Skills on the Working in Canada website.

The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.

What is the wage for this occupation?

Wages are affected by the workers’ level of education, work experience, and job responsibilities, plus the job location, work conditions, and whether the workforce is unionized or not. The figures provided below reflect a national average for low, median (mid-point), and high wages (before taxes).

Low Median High
$15 per hour $24 per hour $39 per hour
$31,200 per year $49,920 per year $81,120 per year

For wage information in specific regions or cities in Canada, see Working in Canada’s Explore Careers by Wages.

What opportunities for advancement are available to Food Science Technologists?

Jobs are available after studying at the diploma level, undergraduate (degree) level, and post-graduate levels in this field, so there is good opportunity for continued learning and career advancement.

Most new graduates start as technicians, often in junior positions. Experienced food science technologists can move into:

  • supervisor or administration positions in quality assurance, inspection, or regulation
  • production management trainee positions leading to plant supervisor positions
  • marketing and sales

Because of the global issues with food and food production, there are opportunities with international food agencies such as the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), or PLENTY Canada.

Where can I find out more about Food Science Technologists in Canada?

For general career information and job search ideas, refer to the Introductory Page.

More details about Food Science Technology are available at: