What is Food Science?
Have you ever wondered about the processes involved to transform raw commodities to the food on your table? That's what food science is all about. Food scientists use principles from biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering to convert agricultural commodities into edible foods and beverages.
As the largest industry in the United States, food processing employs nearly 2 million people and accounts for more than 16 percent of the country's gross national product. Consumers drive the industry as they seek healthy, convenient, and affordable foods and beverages to purchase. As the industry strives to meet consumers demands, the job market for trained food scientists grows. Agriculture, food and its related industries provide 11% of U.S. employment. Food Manufacturing accounts for 14% of all U.S. manufacturing employees. Purdue's Department of Food Science is recognized word-wide for training food scientists from around the globe.
Types of Jobs
Most students who graduate from our program work in the food and beverage industry in the areas of food safety, food regulations, quality assurance, product development, ingredient procurement, food security, research, sales, sensory evaluation, and technical services. Some choose related areas such as food entrepreneuership, food communications, advertising, consumer education and protection, academia, and culinary research. Our undergraduate program can also prepare students to pursue graduate studies, medical school, veterinary school, or law school.
Learn more from some of our recent alumni career profiles.
Other resource to learn more about food science and careers in food science are:
The average starting salary for students who earn a bachelor's degree from our program is ~$53,000. Geographic location of jobs does make a difference in salary offers.
There are several online resources that can be helpful to research salary information such as:
Salary Expert (includes global cost of living comparisons)
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Food Science falls in the Life, Physical and Social Science catagory)
Students can seek employment by using the resources within the Department of Food Science, the College of Agriculture, and/or the University. Food Science continues to have 100% job placement for our graduates who are actively seeking employment. Purdue University was named among the top university career centers in the nation in College Magazine's #3 College for Career Services.
Food Science Department Placement
Laurie Lambert Van Keppel, Career Services & External Relations Coordinator, coordinates recruiting visits to the Department for companies. She also teaches and advises students on netowrking, résumés, cover letters, interviewing skills, understanding and negotiating offers, and other professional skills.
College of Agriculture Career Office
The College of Agriculture employs career services staff, who maintain a web site with position openings posted. They also coordinate the fall and spring career fairs hosted by the College.
Purdue University Career Services
The Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) is a resource for all Purdue students and alumni. Students can register with CCO to access their job posting site. Employers should contact CCO to post jobs on their site.
The Purdue Engineering Student Council hosts one of the largest student-run career fairs in the nation every year, usually in early September, called Industrial Roundtable (IR). This two-day career fair attracts over 400 companies and is open to all Purdue students.
The average beginning salary for B.S. food science graduates is ~$53,000. For more details, refer to:
Purdue's Center for Career Opportunities Data Dashboard for the College of Agriculture
Check out a sample list of companies that hire food scientists, including many graduates from our program.