Food chemists work for both companies and government entities and perform tests to determine the nutritional, physical, and chemical makeups of food products. These chemists carry out tests to ensure that food companies adhere to regulations relating to food and that products are free of any harmful chemicals and bacteria, and some also help design and improve the tastes of particular products.
It is important to be able to operate the equipment used for the analysis of food, though some companies offer on-the-job training for this equipment. Strong mathematical skills are important in order to carry out calculations and conversions, including algebraic functions, ratios, and percentages.
Some analyses may be done with the aid of a computer, and food chemists are also responsible for creating reports, so computer skills are highly beneficial for this position. It is important to keep all equipment and the work area clean and sterilized in order to produce objective results, and they must also pay close attention to the output of results to ensure that the machines are working properly and producing valid results. Food chemists should also be able to troubleshoot equipment and perform periodic maintenance. Much of the work is done independently, so it is important to be able to stay focused and work at a good pace, and a bachelor's degree in a chemical- or food/nutrition-related field is generally required for this position.