Summary Report for:
19-4011.02 - Food Science Technicians
Perform standardized qualitative and quantitative tests to determine physical or chemical properties of food or beverage products.
Sample of reported job titles: Central Lab Technician (CLT), Food Science Technician, Lab Tech (Laboratory Technician), Laboratory Assistant (Lab Assistant), Operations Technician, Quality Analyst, Quality Assurance Analyst (QA Analyst), Quality Control Technician (QC Technician), Quality Technician, Technical Services Analyst
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Record or compile test results or prepare graphs, charts, or reports.
- Conduct standardized tests on food, beverages, additives, or preservatives to ensure compliance with standards and regulations regarding factors such as color, texture, or nutrients.
- Maintain records of testing results or other documents as required by state or other governing agencies.
- Taste or smell foods or beverages to ensure that flavors meet specifications or to select samples with specific characteristics.
- Monitor and control temperature of products.
- Compute moisture or salt content, percentages of ingredients, formulas, or other product factors, using mathematical and chemical procedures.
- Perform regular maintenance of laboratory equipment by inspecting, calibrating, cleaning, or sterilizing.
- Analyze test results to classify products or compare results with standard tables.
- Provide assistance to food scientists or technologists in research and development, production technology, or quality control.
- Train newly hired laboratory personnel.
- Measure, test, or weigh bottles, cans, or other containers to ensure that hardness, strength, or dimensions meet specifications.
- Mix, blend, or cultivate ingredients to make reagents or to manufacture food or beverage products.
- Prepare or incubate slides with cell cultures.
- Examine chemical or biological samples to identify cell structures or to locate bacteria or extraneous material, using a microscope.
- Order supplies needed to maintain inventories in laboratories or in storage facilities of food or beverage processing plants.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Anaerobic jars or accessories — Anaerobic jars
- Bench scales — Precision scales
- Benchtop centrifuges
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Compound binocular light microscopes
- Chemical absorption gas analyzers — Gas analyzers
- Colorimeters — Color testing equipment
- Decontamination shower — Safety showers
- Desktop computers
- Dropping pipettes
- Electronic counters — Colony counters
- Electronic toploading balances
- Extracting equipment for laboratories — Distilling equipment; Siphons
- Eyewashers or eye wash stations — Eyewash fountains
- Fire extinguishers
- Fluorescent microscopes
- Forced air or mechanical convection general purpose incubators — Laboratory mechanical convection incubators
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Fume hoods
- Gas burners — Bunsen burners
- Goggles — Safety goggles
- Handheld thermometer — Dry bulb thermometers; Handheld thermometers
- Heating or drying equipment or accessories — Dessicators
- Inoculating devices — Inoculation tubes
- Lab coats — Laboratory coats
- Laboratory balances
- Laboratory beakers
- Laboratory blenders or emulsifiers — Laboratory blenders
- Laboratory burets — Laboratory glass burets
- Laboratory clamps
- Laboratory flasks — Erlenmeyer flasks
- Laboratory funnels
- Laboratory hotplates — Laboratory hot plates
- Laboratory knives
- Laboratory mechanical convection ovens — Hot air ovens; Laboratory convection ovens
- Laboratory mills — Grinders
- Laboratory mixers
- Laboratory separators — Laboratory strainers
- Laboratory stirring rods
- Laboratory tongs
- Laser printers
- Magnetic spin bars or stir bars or stirring beads — Magnetic stir bars
- Magnetic stirrers
- Magnetic tools — Magnetic retrievers
- Metal detectors
- Microbiology analyzers — Bioluminometers
- Microplate readers — Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ELISA plate readers; Microwell readers
- Microscope slides
- Moisture balances
- Moisture meters
- Multipurpose or general test tubes — General purpose laboratory test tubes
- Notebook computers
- Optical diffraction apparatus — Particle size testing equipment
- Pasteur or transfer pipettes — Pasteur pipettes
- Personal computers
- Pestle or mortars — Mortars and pestles
- Petri plates or dishes — Petri dishes
- pH meters — Universal indicators
- Protective gloves — Safety gloves
- Psychrometers — Wet bulb thermometers
- Remote reading thermometers — Temperature probes
- Specialty plates for bacteria — Agar plates
- Steam autoclaves or sterilizers — Steam autoclaves; Steam sterilizers
- Triple beam balances
- Ultraviolet UV lamps — Ultraviolet UV lights
- Vacuum ovens
- Viscosimeters — Viscosity testing equipment; Zhan cups
- Water analysis systems — Water activity meters
- Water baths — Boiling water baths
Technology used in this occupation:
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software; Microsoft Access
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Food Production — Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
Detailed Work Activities
- Record research or operational data.
- Evaluate quality of materials or products.
- Analyze chemical compounds or substances.
- Clean objects.
- Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.
- Test quality of materials or finished products.
- Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.
- Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Prepare biological samples for testing or analysis.
- Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
- Research methods to improve food products.
- Manage scientific or technical project resources.
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 74% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Standing — 52% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 45% responded “Very important results.”
- Time Pressure — 40% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 56% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 35% responded “Extremely important.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 57% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 43% responded “Some freedom.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 47% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 69% responded “40 hours.”
- Telephone — 48% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 44% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 52% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 37% responded “Every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 31% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Electronic Mail — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 34% responded “Some freedom.”
- Physical Proximity — 40% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 28% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 32% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 42% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 49% responded “Less than half the time.”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|32||High school diploma or equivalent|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: RIC
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages data collected from Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
Employment data collected from Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
Industry data collected from Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
|Median wages (2015)||$17.54 hourly, $36,480 annual|
|Employment (2014)||33,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Average (5% to 8%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||12,400|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Agricultural and food science technicians . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) , 525 W. Van Buren, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60607. Phone: (800) 438-3663. Fax: (312) 782-8348.