With its exclusive and robust data, the 2013 IFT Employment & Salary Survey sheds new light on compensation, benefits, stress, and job satisfaction among food scientists.
After a small dip in 2011, salaries for food scientists have bounced back. U.S. members of the Institute of Food Technologists earned a median salary of $90,000 last year, according to the 2013 IFT Employment & Salary Survey. That total was up 3.4% from the 2011 survey, which included the time frame just after the recession of 2007–2009. In 2011, the median salary dropped slightly to $87,000 from $87,700 in 2009, a minor blip in an otherwise steady stream of increases. (See Table 1 for an overview of the 2013 data compared with 2011 data and Table 2 for more details on 2013 median salaries and bonuses.)
Table 1. Key Salary Survey Statistics—2011 and 2013.
Responses to the wide-ranging survey suggest that the economic climate is taking less of a toll on food science and technology careers than it did two years ago. In 2013, 42% of survey respondents stated that the economy has had no impact on employment within their organizations. The share of those who reported staff reductions (29%) and hiring freezes (27%) in 2013 was down slightly from 2011’s staff reduction (30%) and hiring freeze (31%) totals. In addition, in 2013, 17% reported salary freezes vs 20% in 2011. (See Figure 1 for a full breakout of the economy’s effect on employment in 2013).
Recruiters See Modest Market Growth
Executive recruiters who focus on food science positions noted that they’ve seen recent improvements in the employment scene but added that the changes are incremental.
“The market, I think, is pretty healthy overall,” said recruiter Scott Wellington, President, Wellington Executive Search, Marietta, Ga., who specializes in filling sales and technical jobs for food and pharmaceutical companies. “There seems to be a little bit of uptick. If you’re a good employee and you’ve got a good background, I think you’ve got the upper hand right now.” Nonetheless, he said that many employers “still think we’re in a recession,” which can mean that they take a conservative approach to salaries.
Table 2. Median Value of Salary, Cash Bonus, and Stocks by Gender, All Degrees, Years of Experience, and Types of Business Combined
Moira McGrath, President of Opus International, a Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based executive search firm that specializes in the food science field, said she’s seeing something of a turnaround after a period of several years in which the job market was flat. “2009 was terrible,” McGrath noted, “and in 2011, employers were filling positions. Now I see that they’re adding to staff.
“As an example,” McGrath continued, “we had a young lady who was sitting around underemployed for six months. And just last month [October], she had four offers. Top-of-the-line companies were after her suddenly.”
Interviewed this past fall, executive recruiter and consultant Ron Bynum, President of RightSource Inc., Daytona Beach, Fla., had a somewhat similar perspective. “Everybody says that we’re out of the recession,” Bynum observed, “but hiring has just gotten busy for us in the past three months. In the first part of the year , it was still quiet.”