In a poll of 2,728 members of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the median salary was $87,700 last year, a 4.4 percent hike from two years earlier, when the median was $84,000. And recruitment of new graduates has stabilized, the organization said.
Last June, professor and head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University John Floros told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “At Penn State we always had 100 percent placement before graduation, but this was the first time we still had one or two students who weren’t placed.”
However, commenting on the survey results in IFT’s Food Technology magazine, Floros noted that all graduates had found employment by September, despite the slower uptake from employers. The median starting salary has risen 9.2 percent over the past two years to $50,000, compared to 2007’s $45,800.
According to the poll results, IFT appears to have been particularly successful in attracting young women to a career in food science.
There is almost an equal split of men and women working in the food science field, it shows, but more than three-quarters (76 percent) of those under the age of 30 are women.
This may go some way to explaining a gap in median pay between the sexes, which stood at $98,000 for male survey respondents and $72,000 for female respondents.
Although the median salary for those in the food science arena has risen over the past two years, it has risen more slowly than for the 2005-2007 period when salaries climbed 7.7 percent, and also for the 2003-2005 period, when that figure was 6.6 percent.
Commentators interviewed for Food Technology magazine noted that many businesses were waiting for longer to fill a position, and then employing people with the ‘perfect’ skill set. Falling house prices also had an impact on the willingness of potential employees to relocate.
However, even though the overall American job market was slower during 2009, recruiters forecast increased demand for food scientists in the year ahead.
Of the survey respondents, the majority (67 percent) said they were employed in R&D/scientific/technical work, ten percent were in sales/marketing, nine percent in education, eight percent in management, two percent in consulting, two percent in government, and one percent in purchasing, the organization said.