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Career and Education Opportunities for Food Technologists in Chicago, Illinois

There are many career and education opportunities for food technologists in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 760 working food technologists in Illinois; this should grow by 8% to 830 working food technologists in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for food technologists are expected to grow by about 16.3%. Food technologists generally use chemistry, microbiology, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, and protein; discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful; and apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, and distribute food.

Food technologists earn approximately $26 hourly or $55,410 yearly on average in Illinois. Nationally they average about $28 hourly or $59,520 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Life Sciences, people working as food technologists in Illinois earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Life Sciences nationally. Food technologists work in a variety of jobs, including: quality control inspector , food safety director, and dairy bacteriologist.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including two within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a food technologist. Food technologists usually hold a Doctoral degree, so it will take four or five years to learn to be a food technologist if you already have a Bachelor's degree, or eight to ten years starting with a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Food Technologist

Food Technologist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, food technologists use chemistry, microbiology, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, and protein; discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful; and apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, and distribute food.

Food technologists check raw ingredients for safety and nutritional value. They also study methods to further optimize aspects of foods, such as chemical composition and convenience. Equally important, food technologists have to design new or improved ways of preserving and delivering foods, using knowledge of chemistry and other sciences. They are often called upon to study the structure and composition of food or the changes foods undergo in storage and processing. Finally, food technologists evaluate food processing and storage operations and help in the development of quality assurance programs for such operations.

Every day, food technologists are expected to be able to think through problems and come up with general rules. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they be creative and generate new ideas.

It is important for food technologists to talk with process engineers and packaging and marketing specialists to deal with problems in product development. They are often called upon to test new products for flavor and adherence to government and industry standards. They also design food standards and production specifications, safety and sanitary regulations, and waste management and water supply specifications. They are sometimes expected to inspect food processing areas to insure adherence to government regulations and standards for sanitation and waste management standards. Somewhat less frequently, food technologists are also expected to demonstrate products to clients.

Food technologists sometimes are asked to demonstrate products to clients. They also have to be able to evaluate food processing and storage operations and help in the development of quality assurance programs for such operations And finally, they sometimes have to search for substitutes for harmful or undesirable additives.

Like many other jobs, food technologists must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Biologist. Research or study basic principles of plant and animal life, such as origin, relationship, and functions.
  • Epidemiologist. Investigate and describe the determinants and distribution of disease, disability, and other health outcomes and develop the means for prevention and control.
  • Food Science Technician. Perform standardized qualitative and quantitative tests to determine physical or chemical properties of food or beverage products.
  • Forester. Manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine the best time for harvesting. Develop forest management plans for public and privately-owned forested lands.
  • Medical Scientist. Conduct research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health. Engage in clinical investigation or other research, production, or related activities.
  • Microbiologist. Investigate the growth, structure, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, algae, or fungi. Includes medical microbiologists who study the relationship between organisms and disease or the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.
  • Natural Resource Manager. Research or study range land management practices to provide sustained production of forage, livestock, and wildlife.
  • Scientist. Study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.
  • Soil Conservation Technician. Plan and develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil and water conservation, and sound land use.
  • Zoologist. Study the origins, behavior, and life processes of animals and wildlife. May specialize in wildlife research and management, including the collection and analysis of biological data to determine the environmental effects of present and potential use of land and water areas.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Food Technologist Training

Dominican University - River Forest, IL

Dominican University, 7900 W Division St, River Forest, IL 60305. Dominican University is a small university located in River Forest, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,413 students and an admission rate of 85%. Dominican University has a bachelor's degree program in Food Science.

Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago, IL

Illinois Institute of Technology, 3300 S Federal St, Chicago, IL 60616. Illinois Institute of Technology is a medium sized school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,404 students and an admission rate of 57%. Illinois Institute of Technology has a master's degree program in Food Technology and Processing which graduated fifteen students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.