Career Options: Food and Nutritional Sciences

Your degree course, whichever course within Food and Nutritional Sciences you have followed, will have made you highly employable. Not only will you have acquired relevant scientific and other knowledge, you'll have also developed a wide range of skills. These would include laboratory techniques, such as relevant safety procedures, and IT, analytical, numeracy and report writing skills. By undertaking research projects you'll have mastered project management skills and the ability to design research experiments, to work independently but also co-operatively, and to deliver presentations.
Food pilot plant
Graduate Destinations What did last year's undergraduates go on to do? For job titles and employers see the main Destinations section.
Main Activity - Undergraduates (as %)
Main Activity - Undergraduates (as %)
Knowns only
2014
Full-time paid work 71
Part-time paid work 4
Work and study 7
Full-time study 4
Unemployed 11
Other 4

Should you have undertaken an industrial placement you will have acquired further relevant working skills and insights and be highly marketable. Food and health have become major and topical issues for society meaning that food scientists, technologists, and nutritionists play an increasingly important role in ensuring that consumers can access a greater variety of food that is of high quality but is also nutritionally beneficial and safe to eat.

Your degree will have prepared you to take advantage of these developments, and whilst some graduates will use their skills and interests in the manufacture, quality testing, and processing of food, others will work in nutrition education and promotion, and within government departments concerned with public health issues. Others may choose to use their background scientific skills and other degree knowledge to work within more managerial and supply roles in the food and related industries, including marketing, retail and distribution. There are also opportunities for graduates to pursue higher taught (MSc) or research (PhD) degrees in the areas of food, nutrition and health.

Sector

These links show: how the sectors break down; the main graduate recruiters; characteristics of working in the sector and key current issues; as well as lists of job roles available in the sector.

Graduates in all Food Sciences and Nutrition courses are to be found within a number of sectors, mostly within the commercial, scientific and technical, but also sometimes within the public sector with government departments and agencies. The majority of graduates will be found in manufacturing, and the related areas of distribution, sales and marketing. Some others will work in the environment and agricultural sectors. Whilst others might also be found within the health care industry. The links below show how the sectors break down, the main graduate recruiters, the characteristics of working in the sector, and key current issues; as well as lists of job roles available in the sector.

Roles

Your choice of subject discipline and options within your course may have already helped you tailor your career interests. The following roles are often sought after by graduates with your degree subjects, but there are illustrations of some others that are related, that you could consider. Each job title typically links through to a detailed generic job description which includes a broad job description, salary and conditions, entry requirements, typical recruiters and links to further, pre-assessed, useful information.

Food Technologist

Food Technologist - Food technologists' work involves experimenting with new ingredients and techniques to make innovative products, to meet consumer demand, and to produce consistent products in line with health and safety regulations. They may liaise with suppliers and customer groups, and have to bear in mind that their manufacturer has to make a profit too.

Food Nutritionist

Food Nutritionist - Food nutritionists are to be found throughout the food industry from manufacturing, retail, service suppliers and consumer groups, to consultancies. They may be involved with scientific research, setting quality standards, health promotion and education, and product development amongst other roles.

Product/Process Development Scientist

Product/Process Development Scientist - While optimising manufacturing processes, including ensuring the right quality and consistency, these scientists work with in manufacturing with products such as cosmetics, paints, food and medicines.

Quality Manager

Quality Manager - Whether a product or a service delivers consistently and meets requirements is an important factor in any business and quality managers have this as their focus. Legal compliance is a key part of this, as is customer expectations and business quality standards.

Production Manager

Production Manager - Production managers ensure that the production team work efficiently to produce products to meet the targets for cost and quality. They are involved throughout the manufacturing process including planning, coordinating the team, cost control, and delivery so need both technical and strong people management skills.

Higher Education Lecturer

Higher Education Lecturer - HE lecturers teach subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students via lectures, seminars, tutorials, demonstrations, field work and blended learning. They typically balance this demand alongside a thriving research career which results in publications that bolster their academic reputation. Administration, and ultimately management, is also an important part of the job.

Dietitian

Dietitians - Dietitians work to assist people to make decisions to improve their well being through their diet. The work involves both advising on problems but also anticipating future difficulties through promoting health issues and education to improve the nation's health. They are often employed within the NHS, but may be found throughout the food industry, public health and the education and media sectors. Further education and training is essential to qualify in dietetics (usually a 2 year accredited postgraduate diploma); see the section on Opportunities below. Also see the The Association of UK Dietitians website.

Health Promotion Specialist

Health Promotion or Education, Officers work throughout the health, education and community sectors to promote healthy living through giving advice, training and information on diet and other activities. Strong communication skills both oral and written are required.

Environmental Health Inspector

Environment Health Inspector - Environmental Health Inspectors specialising in food are concerned with maintaining safety regulations to ensure the public's safety. They will carry out unannounced inspection of premises, provide information and advice, and may also prosecute breaches of regulations. Opportunities exist to work within Local Government, private providers but also in education and consultancies.

Marketing Executive

Marketing Executive - This role creates marketing campaigns to improve sales of products or services and involves planning campaigns, organising advertising and PR, research with consumers and new product development. Brand Managers focus on the visual concepts in marketing.

Sales Executive

Sales Executive - sales, or business development as it is often called, involves taking on responsibility for huge deals through the development and brokering of relationships with retailers. Deals have increased in complexity as brands team up, space and merchandising issues are brought to the fore and retailers sales ideas change. A firm grasp on the figures is essential in sales as is the ability to negotiate and build relationships.

Nutritional Therapist

Nutritional Therapist - This complementary therapy is usually used alongside conventional and other therapies to help individuals with nutritional problems. They would approach the problem in a holistic way, and advise individuals on changes in diet to both alleviate the existing problem, but also to help reduce future risks to their health and wellbeing - also see the Nutritional Therapy Education Commission website.

Finding opportunities

This sector of the economy has grown in recent years and the variety of products on offer has grown, so employment prospects for graduates to work in this sector are good, although vacancies are competitively sought after. Time spent researching roles and vacancies in detail and preparing suitable applications to market yourself effectively will pay off.

For some of the above roles, depending on the options taken during your degree, you will need to follow a further academic and/or professional training course; for example training as a dietitian or Environmental Health Inspector. For details of postgraduate professional training courses, and higher degrees see the relevant Professional Association's website (see the Roles and Useful Links Sections), eg the Health and Care Practitioners Council's website, and the postgraduate study section of the Prospects website. The HCPC will also provide valuable information on relevant approved course providers which you can then review for entry requirements.

Depending on the subjects taken in your course, the degree is recognised by the Association for Nutrition for registration as a professional nutritionist, and/or by the Institute of Food Sciences and Technology.

As with most occupations work experience, internships, voluntary work and work shadowing are crucial in helping you to decide not only on the work area that suits you, but also in finding employment. Should you have completed a year in industry this experience will be highly beneficial to you in both providing insights but also contacts, and will make you a competitive candidate. Looking at My Jobs Online may be useful as advertising nationally can be expensive for employers. See the Careers Centre's information on Placements and other experience which has advice on how to go about this activity, and links to many useful vacancy sites. The close links of your department to the industry will also be useful to you, and the web links below will provide details of other opportunities. However many openings aren't advertised so networking through contacts, department's alumni/ae, societies (links at the end of this article), LinkedIn and direct approaches to potential employers may also be profitable. Don't neglect the possibility of approaching small organisations and companies local to your home area. Given that many vacancies and work experience opportunities are not advertised widely, you should adopt a creative job search strategy to access this hidden job market.

For vacancies in all areas of work make use of both the Prospects' Graduate website and The Careers Centre's on-line vacancy service, My Jobs Online.

You will find the links listed below helpful to explore opportunities and vacancies:

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