A Food Scientist will probably be working and gaining experience in many aspects of the food industry. If you become one, you will be finding yourself situations where you will need to use novel ingredients (or assessing them). Novel formulations might need to be created or re-created and you might need to tweak methods and processes too according to who will be your end consumer.
Of course you will not only deal with foods but also other materials such as packaging. Let’s have a look at what are the characteristics of a food scientist, from the background to some necessary skills.
Food Scientist’s background and interests
By now you know that , to become a food scientist, you need at least a bachelor degree or a background in something like agricultural science or biology, food science, chemistry, food engineering or plant sciences (all fields that are related to one another and share the same basics). It might be possible that you will need to have some laboratory experience (either as a placement or thanks to university lab sessions) or you might also hold a PhD. You might need to have a love or an interest for sciences in general and a familiarity with math.
Of course, not only this but you will also need to have a natural propension towards loving foods, cooking, backing, creating new foods and trying new properties. Usually, a food scientist is not a picky eater (but it might be possible that some dietary requirements will prevent you from eating classic foods. This is not a limitation but a motivation to look for more foods and develop new inclusive formulations).
Food Scientist’s Skills
If you think about Research and Development, your journey might start in a lab checking ingredients functionalities and trialling novel recipes. You will need to have a high attention to detail as well as good IT skills. The data you will collect will need proper understanding and analysis.
One perk of working in an R&D department is that you will most likely get in contact with different people from different areas, you will work together for a common goal. This means that you will be working on your own projects but will also need to present them to the other members of the department. You will then need to have good communication skills, both oral and written as it will be very likely that you’ll write reports in order to quickly share your findings.
Let me recap what are the main skills that you might need if you want to be a Food Scientist. What I suggest doing is checking which of these you have developed during your placement or work experiences or, if you don’t have any, which of these skills you were able to develop at uni.
Did I miss anything? Are you a Food Scientist and want to add some more skills? I will wait for you in the comments box.