People studying food technology learn about raw materials, packaging standards, processing techniques, storage and food value. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook website reports that many colleges and universities offer food technology courses. In addition, agricultural-science degree programs exist at land-grant colleges in every U.S. state.
Coursework for a two-year degree in food technology typically includes principles of science and engineering, nutrition and food chemistry. The associate degree courses offer students a scientific understanding of the food we eat and how it's made, packaged and sold. Graduates can work in entry-level jobs that ensure the quality, nutrition and safety of the U.S. food supply.
Bachelor's degree coursework in this field usually focuses on the historical, current and possible future applications of technology in the food industry. Non-specialized courses in food safety and quality management, sensory food science and chemical food analysis also could appear on the curriculum. Some schools require students to gain hands-on experience in food technology through internships or basic research courses.
Food technology courses at the master's degree level -- designed for students seeking to upgrade their knowledge to increase their career prospects -- most likely include advanced research projects and a specialization in a certain area of the food industry, such as food engineering or food biotechnology.
For college teaching and advancement to senior research positions, students must pursue a doctorate degree in food technology. At this level, courses usually delve deeper into the theory and practice of the food industry. For example, the food science and technology Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, covers "advanced topics relevant to manufacture and distribution of processed foods," according to its website. Topics include risks that threaten the wholesomeness of foods as well as the development of new food products.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Agricultural and Food Scientists
- Arkansas State University: Food Science Degree
- College Board: Food Technology and Processing
- University of Minnesota: Food Science and Nutrition
- University of Maryland, Eastern Shore: Food Science and Technology
- Photo Credit pears on keyboard image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com
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