Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Food Technologists

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Prospects for food technologists are generally good. There is a shortage of skilled food technologists in New Zealand and growing industry demand.

How to become a food technologist

What they do

Food technologists work on the development, processing and packaging of food and beverage products. They may also work on food marketing, intellectual property management, food safety (microbiology and toxins), consumer issues (flavour, texture, appearance of food), food engineering, and food regulations.

Qualifications needed

Food technologists usually require a bachelor’s degree in food technology, food science, food engineering or a related field. Food technologists may also be required to complete on-the-job training programmes once hired.

For senior positions, a master’s degree is preferred, and a PhD is a requirement for entry into university roles or more research-focused careers.

The New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) has useful information on pathways and qualifications for a career in food science.

New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology:

Cost of study

Bachelor of SciencePhD in Science
$18,500 over three to four years $24,000 - $32,000 over three to four years

Average costs in 2015 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

Most New Zealand universities offer either a degree in food science, food technology, or food engineering. NZIFST has a list of relevant tertiary courses.

New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing graduate and postgraduate degrees in food science and biotechnology has been variable over the last few years.

Completed qualifications chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2016, the average income for food technologists was estimated to be $64,000.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Food technologists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
651 711 972 1,128
  1.3% 4.6% 3.0%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Natural and Physical Science Professionals”.

The number of food technologists grew between 2006 and 2013, and growth is forecast to speed up to over three percent each year until 2025.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
14% 25% 0% 58% $39,700

Source: Ministry of Education. “S” means data is supressed because of low numbers.
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Process & Resources Engineering. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Most graduates were in employment two years after completing a bachelor’s degree in process and resources engineering. Some were overseas, and a relatively small number were in further study, whereas very few were receiving a benefit. The median salary was around $39,700 two years after graduating.

Food technologists appear on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list (all regions), indicating the government is actively encouraging skilled workers in that occupation to work in New Zealand.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Online vacancies for the broader category chemists, and food and wine scientists has been relatively stable since 2008, with a small peak in 2011. Since then, there has been a small decline, while the overall average for all vacancies increased over the same period. The number of advertisements was slightly lower in 2015 than in 2008.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Food technologist vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Career paths may lead to research and development (R&D) management, technical management, consumer research, or general management.

As well as industry pathways, there are more research-focused opportunities available in universities and other research institutions.

Other information


More information on food technologists is available on the websites of Careers New Zealand, and New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Careers New Zealand:
New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology:
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Food Technologist in the Seafood Industry

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry level food technologists.

  • Biochemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemist
  • Food Scientist
  • Winemaker


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of food technologists has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

234212 – Food Technologist