Careers: Taste Tester

When that inevitable conversation popped up as a child between yourself and your teacher, parent, mentor or other leadership figures, focused on what you wanted to be when you grew up, most kids probably had one of several traditional answers on the ready.  Doctor, lawyer, astronaut, even zookeeper, were all viable potential careers sure to make your parent brim with happiness over your working ambitions. If you were a born foodie, however, perhaps you had a different and less traditional career in mind; taste tester.

Pretty much any company in the business of producing food or beverages is in need of a professional taste tester on staff.  Tasters ensure quality control in large batches of products and are generally responsible for judging the “yumminess” factor of items exiting the facilities.  As far as job satisfaction goes, who wouldn’t want to spend their days sampling gourmet ice creams, sipping on sudsy sodas or imbibing in adult beverages.

With the perks of a highly enviable job, however, comes a great deal of needed expertise, not to mention an above average palette.  You’ll most likely end up putting in a good deal of time tempering your taste buds and working out your sense of smell. In addition, you will also need to be highly detailed as a good portion of your position will require thorough notes and an excellent ability to communicate verbally and writing all of your sensory experiences.  If the prospect of this extracurricular study doesn’t dissuade you, read on to find out just what it takes to launch your career as a taste tester.

Top Qualifications of a Taste Tester

  • Food Service Experience
  • Food Science Degree
  • Strong Sensory Abilities
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Outgoing Personality

While there isn’t any one specific career or education track to take on the road to becoming a food tester, there are certain backgrounds that could pave the way to success and help make scoring your first gig in the field all the easier.  

Prior experience as a waiter, cook, chef or another food service professional will give you the heads up you need to understand the lingo and operations of the food industry in general.  You’ll also benefit from knowledge about how food is prepared including different cooking techniques. If you’re truly gung-ho, a degree in biology, food preparation or food science will flush out your academic skills and give you critical expertise in the science behind taste, smell and food in general.  Combine these educational traits with plenty of experience and certifications in food and beverage in general and you’ll be well on your way to landing your first taste tester position.

Plenty of On-the-Job Training

While a degree may come in handy, making a career out of being a taste tester doesn’t necessarily need any extra in the education department.  Most employers will offer plenty in the way of on the job training. Sure, depending on the company and exact needs, certain positions may require scientific training, but the most critical element of any taste tester is exceptional sensory capabilities.  If you fit the bill, employers will often offer (lengthy) on the job training to help get them up to speed. Did we mention some employers value taste testers so much that they actually insure their taste buds?

A Career With Flexibility

Another perk of entering the world of taste testing as a career is the flexibility in job hours.  In some companies, taste testing can be a full-time position. Such is the case with Kristen Wemer, a professional taste tester who began working during college in a part-time gig and ended up full time, tasting a wide range of products for quality control.  

Kristen may have made a career out of the food-inspired profession, but others can make a side job out of taste testing new products as part of consumer review panels.  Certain consumer research companies specialize in this line of work, while others are generalized and have opportunities that only pop up from time to time.  If closing your eyes and jumping into the culinary unknown sounds like a good time to you, do your research beforehand to find the job that’s the right fit for you.

Taste Tester Salaries

Taste tester jobs aren’t exactly numerous.  These coveted positions tend to be snapped up and turnover is incredibly limited given the specialized skill required.  While you may want to put “taste tester” as an official title on your future resume, sadly most of these positions fall under the more mundane heading of “Quality Assurance Tester” or a similar moniker.  If the news has you down, the median salary for this position of just north of $33 /hr should have you feeling a bit perkier regarding your prospects.  

It may not be the teaching or nursing career your parents probably imagined for you, but between the sensory perks and solid compensation rate, a career as a taste tester is nothing to turn your nose up at.  It just goes to show that for every passion there is a corresponding career. If your love is food and beverage, a job as a taste tester may be just the thing for you.

Article Updated from the Original on February 2, 2018