Some food engineers work to create healthy and tasty new food products, while others work to improve preservation techniques, packaging or delivery. Engineers may also study food contents and work to create better food additives. A person who wants to become a food engineer typically begins by earning a bachelor’s degree in food science or a related field. Others may seek master’s or doctoral degrees in the hopes of securing positions of higher responsibility or out of a desire to have more opportunity for advancement later in their careers. Additionally, a person who wants to become a food engineer may consider an advanced degree if he wants to teach at a college or university. Food engineers can often find employment at food processing plants, government agencies and universities.
The first step in becoming a food engineer is earning a high school diploma. While in high school, a prospective food engineer may take courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy to prepare for the work he’ll have to do in college. Taking advanced math courses may also help an aspiring food engineer to be well prepared for college-level work. If a person does not have a high school diploma, he may earn a General Educational Development (GED) diploma or its equivalent in preparation for college. Most colleges and universities are willing to accept such credentials.
In college, a person who wants to become a food engineer typically pursues a degree in food science. An aspiring food engineer may also seek a degree in a related field, such as life science or agriculture. Among the science courses a person might take when pursuing this degree are engineering, microbiology, and physics. He’ll likely do coursework in chemistry, food analysis, and food engineering as well. Often, food science majors also require the study of food chemistry, food processing, and statistics.
While food engineering is a scientific field, a person who wants to become a food engineer may also benefit from taking some business-related courses. Companies that produce food may value job candidates who understand business operations. As such, taking a business course or two may help an aspiring food engineer stand out in comparison to other job candidates.
Some people apply for food engineering jobs right after they graduate from college, but others choose to make a longer educational investment. A person who has earned a master’s degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in this field may have a better chance of securing a management position, which might also include higher pay. Likewise, a person may need an advanced degree if he wants to conduct research or teach at a college or university. A master’s degree may be enough to begin teaching at the college level, but those who want consideration for tenured positions usually need Ph.D. degrees.