Food technologists plan the manufacture of food and drink products and can work in a wide range of settings, including kitchens, factories, laboratories and offices. Consequently, specific responsibilities vary greatly but may include:
- generating new product ideas and recipes
- modifying and improving existing recipes
- designing processes and machinery for the production of recipes on a large scale
- liaising with marketing staff
- ensuring that strict hygiene food safety standards are met
- identifying and choosing products from suppliers
- monitoring the use of additives
- testing and examining samples
- writing reports.
You can find out more about this job role by reading our overview of product technology and food technology
Employers of food technologists include food manufacturing and retail companies, universities, government organisations and specialist research associations/consultancies.
Opportunities are advertised by careers services and recruitment agencies, and specialist publications including Food Manufacture, both online and in print. Early applications are advisable to larger employers. Speculative applications are also recommended, for which directories such as the Ingredients Network may be useful.
There are reasonable opportunities for advancement into senior technologist/managerial positions, providing that employees are able to change employer or to relocate if necessary.
There are routes into a food technology career for both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates will need a degree in an appropriate subject, such as food science/technology, food/chemical engineering, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology or chemistry. Possession of a food-related postgraduate qualification can be beneficial, particularly for candidates without a relevant first degree. Job shadowing, networking and vacation placements can be helpful, and candidates possessing food industry work experience are often at an advantage. Experience can be gained via food production line employment or by working as a technician.
As a school leaver, you could get into this career through an apprenticeship or an entry-level role. Unilever, for example, offers apprenticeships in research and development, working on its food and drink products. To find out more about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the science section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
- Find out how Vanessa Fursden got her job as a food technologist at Marks & Spencer and read her top tips for landing a job in this area here.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Good teamworking abilities
- The ability to work independently
- Meticulous attention to detail, especially with regard to food hygiene and safety
- Strong analytical and numerical skills.