Agricultural and Food Science Technicians work with agricultural and food scientists to monitor food production and food safety.
Agricultural science technicians typically develop and follow protocols to store crop and animal samples, operate farm equipment and maintain agricultural production areas to conform to scientific testing parameters, examine animals and other specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems and ensure that they meet safety standards, and measure ingredients used in testing of animal feed and for other purposes. When working in private industry, agricultural science technicians perform many of these same duties, with a focus on increasing the productivity of crops and animals.
Food science technicians typically collect and prepare samples following established procedures; test food, food additives, and food containers to ensure they comply with established safety standards; analyze chemical properties of food to determine ingredients and formulas; and keep a safe, sterile laboratory environment. When working in private industry, food science technicians inspect food and crops during processing to ensure products are fit for distribution or to investigate ways to improve efficiency. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.
Agricultural and food science technicians often specialize by subject area. Some popular subjects include carbon management and sequestration, microbiology, and processing technology.
Agricultural and food science technicians who work for the federal government monitor regulatory compliance for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture, and other agencies. With the recent passage of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the frequency of food inspections is expected to increase, along with improvements in performance standards. The FSMA also requires more inspections of foreign food production facilities that export to the United States, so some agricultural and food science technicians may travel internationally.
Other titles include Seed Analyst, Agricultural Research technician, County Extension Agent, Agricultural Research Technologist.
Agricultural and food science technologists generally need an Associate in Animal Science degree or an Associate in Food Science degree or an associate’s degree in a related field. Some schools offer an Associate in Agricultural Technology Food Science degree.
Many schools offer internships, cooperative education and other experiential programs for food technologists.
People who choose food science careers but have only a high school diploma usually undertake an extensive training program that can last a year or more.
Food technologists don’t need a license or certification.