Institute of Food Technologists Releases Compensation & Career Path Report

The report includes the latest trends in Food Science careers

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

July 9, 2024

3 Min Read
IFT's 2024 Compensation & Career Path Report
The report reveals a commonality in responses by Gen X and Boomers, and Gen Z and Millennials.

At a Glance

  • 71% of this year’s respondents reported receiving a pay increase during the past year.
  • 58% said they would feel comfortable if all salaries were shared openly in their organizations.
  • Respondents reported a mean of 16.2 years of professional food-related work experience, 3 years less than in 2022.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has released its 2024 Compensation and Career Path Report, which reveals career trends in the science of food including compensation, job satisfaction, and workplace challenges.  

The survey on which the report was based was conducted in November 2023. IFT, working with a private research firm, sent email surveys to 35,899 US-based professionals working in the science of food discipline. With 3,561 responses, the survey had a response rate of about 10%. Results have a margin of error of +/-1.56% at a 95% level of significance. The response rate is roughly 20% higher compared to the 2022 report.

 Although median pay dipped since the last survey, changes to the survey and the pool of respondents contributed to this decrease.

Gen Z and Millennials favor sharing salary info; Gen X and Boomers do not.

This year also saw a significant increase in responses from younger professionals with less experience, as well as lower salaries. The report explored attitudes by generations for the first time — nearly half of the respondents fell in the Millennial generational category.

An interesting comparison in generational survey respondents involved salary transparency as Gen Z and Millennials overwhelmingly favored sharing salary information (more than 70%), while only 34% of Gen X and Baby Boomers agreed. This points to one of multiple generational conflicts employers may encounter among their modern workforces.

In addition, IFT recently changed the way it categorizes professional positions, which may have also contributed to the drop in average salary. Rather than categorizing positions by title, IFT now classifies positions based on primary job functions. This new approach better fits modern ways of working, in which many professionals have multiple job functions that may not be accurately captured by a general title.

Even with a slight decrease in pay, food science professionals report mostly positive trends in their careers, including compensation. The majority received pay raises during the past year, and while discrepancies in pay persist between men and women, and professionals of majority and minority racial groups, some of the gaps are smaller than in the past.

Many full-time employees also receive additional compensation. For example, 67% report receiving a cash bonus, with a median value of $10,321. Total compensation among full-time employees and self-employed, including the total dollar amount of cash bonuses received, total value of stocks received as part of professional income, and overtime earnings was a median of $115,500.

Overall, science of food industry workers reflect larger workplace trends, including an increasingly diverse workforce, increased interest in changing jobs, more flexibility at work, and working a full-time job as well as a side hustle. While earning extra income is one of the main reasons for working on the side,

Some trends align with larger workplace trends, such as an increasingly diverse workforce, increased interest in changing jobs (nearly one-third of respondents had pursued a job move in the last 24 months), more flexibility at work, and working a full-time job as well as a side hustle.  Yet they also report other driving factors, including building a network and pursuing a passion.

Results of this survey reveal the industry to be a continually growing field with opportunities for building a long-term career while both making a difference in the world and creating a desired personal life.

Findings from the report will be presented at IFT FIRST, the annual food science, technology, and innovation event hosted by IFT at McCormick Place in Chicago, which takes place July 14-17.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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