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Food Scientist job outlook
Job growth among agricultural and food scientists
should be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Opportunities are
expected to be good over the next decade, particularly for those holding a
masterís or Ph.D. degree.
Employment change. Employment of
agricultural and food scientists is expected to grow 9 percent between 2006 and
2016, about as fast as the average
for all occupations. Past agricultural research has created higher yielding
crops, crops with better resistance to pests and plant pathogens, and more
effective fertilizers and pesticides. Research is still necessary, however,
particularly as insects and diseases continue to adapt to pesticides and as soil
fertility and water quality continue to need improvement. This creates more jobs
for agricultural scientists.
Emerging biotechnologies will play an ever larger
role in agricultural research. Scientists will be needed to apply these
technologies to the creation of new food products and other advances. Moreover,
increasing demand is expected for biofuels and other agricultural products used
in industrial processes. Agricultural scientists will be needed to find ways to
increase the output of crops used in these products.
Agricultural scientists will also be needed to
balance increased agricultural output with protection and preservation of soil,
water, and ecosystems. They increasingly encourage the practice of sustainable
agriculture by developing and implementing plans to manage pests, crops, soil
fertility and erosion, and animal waste in ways that reduce the use of harmful
chemicals and do little damage to farms and the natural environment.
Job growth for food scientists and technologists
will be driven by the demand for new food products and food safety measures.
Food research is expected to increase because of heightened public awareness of
diet, health, food safety, and biosecurityópreventing the introduction of
infectious agents into herds of animals. Advances in biotechnology and
nanotechnology should also spur demand, as food scientists and technologists
apply these technologies to testing and monitoring food safety.
Fewer new jobs for agricultural and food scientists
are expected in the Federal Government, mostly because of budgetary constraints
at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Job prospects. Opportunities should
be good for agricultural and
food scientists with a masterís degree, particularly those seeking applied
research positions in a laboratory. Masterís degree candidates also can seek to
become certified crop advisors, helping farmers better manage their crops. Those
with a Ph.D. in agricultural and food science will experience the best
opportunities, especially in basic research and teaching positions at colleges
Graduates with a bachelorís degree in agricultural
or food science can sometimes work in applied research and product development
positions under the guidance of a Ph.D. scientist, but usually only in certain
subfields, such as food science and technology. The Federal Government also
hires bachelorís degree holders to work as soil scientists.
Most people with bachelorís degrees find work in
positions related to agricultural or food science rather than in jobs as
agricultural or food scientists. A bachelorís degree in agricultural science is
useful for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses, such as
farm credit institutions or companies that manufacture or sell feed, fertilizer,
seed, and farm equipment. In some cases, people with a bachelorís degree can
provide consulting services or work in sales and marketingópromoting high-demand
products such as organic foods. Bachelorís degrees also may help people become
farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers; agricultural inspectors; or
purchasing agents for agricultural commodity or farm supply companies.
Employment of agricultural and food scientists is
relatively stable during periods of economic recession. Layoffs are less likely
among agricultural and food scientists than in some other occupations because
food is a staple item and its demand fluctuates very little with economic
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition
Find related resources below:
Food Scientist Training and Qualifications
Food Scientist Income