Food Science: A Paycheck with a Purpose

January 15, 2014

CHICAGO—In spite of the fact that over 200 million people are unemployed, businesses around the world are struggling to fill key jobs. Institute of Food Technologists Past President John Ruff discussed this topic as a featured panelist at “The World in 2050: Talent Mobility and the Future of Jobs,” a global forum at the National Press Club yesterday. The forum was hosted by the Diplomatic Courier, in collaboration with STEMconnector and the CumberlandCenter’s Global Action Platform. #2050jobs

“Food science and technology play an absolute critical role in feeding a growing population expected to increase to nine billion people by 2050,” said Ruff. “Food scientists will lead the way in making discoveries that result in a safer, more nutritious, and more sufficient global food supply.”

Technology is rapidly changing, and markets are more globalized than ever before. More than ever, the food industry needs a diverse and well-educated workforce explained Ruff. This is why IFT—a nonprofit scientific society of food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry—is dedicated to developing programs to ensure there is a pipeline of food science graduates to satisfy future employment opportunities.

IFT resources provide guidance at every level of education starting at K-12. Teachers and students interested in looking behind the scenes at how food is developed and processed can access a food safety curriculum as well as several food science activities and experiments at http://bit.ly/1lBx77Z  Students can also see what is it really like to be a food scientist and hear firsthand experiences from food scientists that work at NASA, Disney and in packaging and academia on the web page, “A Day in the Life of a Food Scientist.”  

Feeding Tomorrow, the foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists, focuses on leveraging food science expertise for global progress and championing food science as a desirable career. Programs include student competitions, leadership awards, travel grants, and scholarships. In addition, a new initiative called Food4Thought positions food science as a premiere STEM field and leverages educational immersion programs to introduce food science as a strong career choice.

The IFT Student Association (IFTSA) is the part of IFT governed by undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers in food science and technology. Their long-range vision is to cultivate a stimulating and valuable member experience and increase the number of qualified professionals advancing the science and technology of food.

For those who are currently working in the food science field, IFT offers continuing educational experiences that explore practical applications of science. Participants in these professional and continuing education programs keep current on new trends and technologies and hone their skills in ways that will advance their careers. In addition, professionals can earn their certified food scientist credential. This is a way for food scientists to demonstrate that they have gained experience that builds on their academic degrees to meet the demands of the complex role of food science in today’s marketplace.

According to the 2011 IFT Employment and Salary Survey, the median salary for food scientists polled by IFT was $87,000. More than eight out of 10 (84 percent) said they are either mostly satisfied (57 percent) or highly satisfied (27 percent with their jobs). The 2013 Salary Survey results will be published in February 2014.

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About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.