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2020 Food Processing Degree Guide

Students who major in Food Processing work to ensure that crops and animal products are healthy and safe for consumption.

In this field, you will take classes on nutrition, health and safety standards, food processing and packaging to learn how to improve the quantity and quality of crops. You will spend time studying math, chemistry, business, agricultural economics, and computer science concepts and how they relate to agricultural production. By the time you finish your degree, you will be able to conduct research and help improve farmers' outputs.

A Recent Jump in Food Processing Degrees

#326 Most Popular Major
226 Degrees Awarded
15.5% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, food processing was the 326th most popular major nationwide with 226 degrees awarded. This is a difference of 35 over the prior year, a growth of 15.5%.

Approximately 8 colleges in the U.S. offer a food processing degree of some kind. Explore this or one of our many other custom food processing rankings further below.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Food Processing

Food Processing is a great career for anyone who enjoys science and performing experiments. Since the products harvested from farms are being used to feed the general population, it is important that the food is continually tested for nutrition and packaged safely. If you choose to focus on crops, you will work on ways to improve processing, packing, and distributing food. Focusing on animals will allow you to find the best ways to preserve products during distribution and advice farmers on the best way increase production.

A career in Agricultural and Food Products Processing requires analytical and critical-thinking skills. You must be able to analyze data with precision and reach conclusions with good judgment and accuracy. This career also requires a strong background in sciences, specifically nutrition, agronomy and crop science, and food science. Depending on the type of food you wish to study, you may be required to have a background in applied chemistry, animal science, and biology.

The best way to gain experience in this field is through an internship. You will work with experienced scientists to learn how to properly conduct experiments, gather data, and analyze your findings.

Prior Education for a Food Processing Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific food processing careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Food Processing Degree Types

Food Processing degree levels vary. Food Processing programs offered by schools range from a first year certificate to a bachelor's, which is the highest food processing degree you can get. The type of food processing degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A high school diploma or equivalent is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to food processing, with approximately 31.0% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for food processing workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma 34.0%
Doctoral Degree 15.0%
Some College Courses 11.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 8.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 8.8%

65.8% of food processing workers have at least a one to two year certificate. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in food processing have received.


The education level required is different depending on the food processing career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for Food Processing Majors

Below Average Number of Jobs
$54.2k Average Starting Salary
4% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Graduates who study Food Processing often find jobs as agricultural technicians inspecting food and crops to ensure they comply with safety standards. Other career possibilities include food science technicians, soil and plant scientists, and animal scientists. Typically, food scientists and technologists, as well as soil and plant scientists, earn a bachelor's degree, while most animal scientists earn a Ph.D.

Growth Projected for Food Processing Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your food processing degree? Food Processing careers are expected to grow 3.5% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to food processing.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Worker Supervisors 49,700 2.1%
Agricultural Inspectors 16,300 4.5%
Agricultural Sciences Professors 13,600 7.9%

How Much Money Do Food Processing Grads Make?

Food Processing graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $54,250 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $44,100 to as high as $64,400. As you might expect, salaries for food processing graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Food Processing Careers

Salaries for food processing graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers food processing grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Agricultural Sciences Professors $90,890
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Worker Supervisors $50,790
Agricultural Inspectors $45,970

Getting Your Food Processing Degree

With over 40 different food processing degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased food processing school rankings to help you with this.

Food Processing is one of 13 different types of Agriculture & Agriculture Operations programs to choose from.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Agricultural Economics & Business 8,521
Animal Science 7,549
Horticulture 4,175
General Agriculture 3,457
Plant Sciences 3,327

View All Food Processing Related Majors >


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