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How much do science of food professionals like their jobs? According to the 2022 IFT Compensation and Career Path Report, they’re quite likely to recommend the field as a career—a key measure of overall job satisfaction.

On the face of it, there’s a lot to like. Compensation has surged 16 percent over the past three years, with the median U.S. salary reaching $110,000. Employment opportunities are robust, with job seekers enjoying what one recruiter called “a candidate’s marketplace,” including unprecedented leverage in negotiating terms like remote work arrangements.

Yet underneath the good news are ripples of discontent. IFT has tracked science of food salary data since 1966, but its most recent report is the first to also delve into workplace satisfaction. A new survey dedicated to professional pathways and employment attitudes reveals significant “pain points” and a profession that has far from escaped the “Great Resignation.” 

To get a pulse on how people really feel about their work, respondents to the additional survey, totaling nearly 3,000 (and representing both the United States and regions across the globe), ranked 16 factors that influence job satisfaction to create an “importance score” for each. The most important factors, based on average scores, were supportive management, work/life balance, intellectual stimulation, salary and benefits, and job security.

Respondents then rated those same 16 factors against their personal level of job satisfaction assigning each a “satisfaction score”—and that’s where the dissonance emerged. In five key areas, including supportive management, career development and advancement, work/life balance, salary and benefits, and job-related stress, importance scores significantly exceeded satisfaction scores. In other words, the elements people consider most important in the workplace are sometimes wildly out of sync with what they experience on the job.

Along with better salaries and greater job opportunities, the 2022 IFT Compensation and Career Path Report points to other positive changes within the science of food since IFT’s last report in 2019. The profession has become substantially more diverse, for example, with increases in the number of Asian, Black, and Latinx professionals, as well as those who identify as biracial or multiracial. Nonwhite racial and ethnic groups account for more than 33 percent of survey respondents, up significantly from 21 percent three years ago. 

And yet, this positive development is tempered by survey responses that report inequities related to race, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as anecdotal accounts of workplace cultures that lack inclusivity. Forty-six percent of women responded that gender has affected compensation or career advancement, with similar responses noted among nonwhite (38 percent), gay/lesbian (32 percent), and Latinx professionals (31 percent).

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that a quarter of survey respondents stated they had pursued a job change during the past two years, and more than 20 percent reported they were unlikely to remain in their current position over the next five years (with 17 percent unsure of their future job plans). This could be the result of a professional landscape that apparently leaves many deprived of fulfillment—despite their love for their chosen field.

Join us for a webinar featuring highlights from the 2022 IFT Compensation and Career Path Report on Tuesday, January 17, at 1 p.m. CT, led by Food Technology Executive Editor Mary Ellen Kuhn. 

For more detailed and comprehensive data on salary, benefits, and science of food career trends, including breakout data by geographic region, job function, years of employment, and more, download the 2022 IFT Compensation and Career Path Report. It’s free to Premier and Student Members and available at a discount for other membership levels. Non-members can purchase the report for a fee of $179.

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