A dairy technologist is essentially a food scientist who specializes in dairy products such as fresh milks, flavored milks, yogurts, ice creams, butter, and cheese.
From a single raw material, which is fresh milk, a dairy technologist can come up with very many products that are differentiated to satisfy various market segments.
The ingenuity of manipulating this single raw material to obtain these products requires a great deal of acquired skill.
For this reason, anybody aspiring to be a furnished dairy technologist will need to have a satisfactory amount of training from a qualified institution to be certified for handling this delicate food product.
What Dairy Technologists Actually Do
A dairy technologist will typically work in an office setting, a research laboratory, industrial floor, fieldwork, and/or universities and other higher learning institutions.
The profession calls for the technologist to work standard business/working days a week. However, there are some instances that will call for the technologist to put in long hours in the work, which will call for working overtime.
The profession of a dairy technologist offers good prospects for growth and the remuneration for the job ranges from average to above average.
Many people have misconceptions about this noble profession. A Dairy Technologist’s work is not milking cows as some mis-informed fellows have been mislead to believe.
A Dairy Technologist is a highly qualified individual who has undergone intensive training to be fully equipped to surmount the challenges of the industry.
To qualify for a dairy technology course, you must possess very high standards of academic and character qualifications. We will discuss some of the qualifications below to give you a glimpse of who a Dairy Technologist really is.
Pre-qualifications for a Dairy Technologist
Any person who wishes to pursue a course in dairy technology needs to possess the following traits:
In this field, you are going to be working with people and they are going to need your prompt responses every time. Prompt communication is very necessary because you should already know that dairy is an extremely perishable product in raw form.
Your decisions are going to be fast and accurate all the time because the milk will not wait for you to make a decision when “you feel you have more time.” Your constant feedback on the progress of the assigned duties is going to determine if you are worth your salt.
Attention to details
In this profession, subtle things can turn out pretty serious. For instance, say you are procuring milk at a cooling center with a capacity of 10000 liters per day.
You have already received 8000 liters of clean high quality milk of resazurin test 6, and then you have a farmer walk in with a can of 50 liters of milk but the test result shows resazurin test 4.
On further interrogation, you find that the farmer mixed evening milk with morning milk in the same can that morning when delivering in to the cooling center.
Even though the quality of milk may be acceptable at resazurin test 4, you may end up compromising the quality of the whole 8000 liters of milk already procured if you are not careful enough with the 50 liters.
This is because bacteria multiply extremely fast even with a single degree increase in temperature. If you are not a detail-oriented person, you would not know that the farmer had mixed aged milk with fresh milk.
A dairy technologist must be a person who does not just do things haphazardly. You need to develop the culture of doing things systematically and methodically.
You will need to be a person who can derive a logical analysis of a situation and provide a systematic information that any rookie can understand and follow.
In every step of the way, you will need to keep beautifully organized notes to help track work progress. Organization will give you a window to evaluate the tasks.
It almost goes without saying that you have to be a dependable person. You are going to be dealing with food products consumed by the public.
If you are going to let your guard down on issues of quality, you are going to compromise the lives of the millions. You must protect your consumers at all costs.
You must be an incorruptible person who values the lives of people more than any other material gain.
You will be working alone on some projects in this profession. No one will be present to watch over you and push you to accomplish some tasks.
If you are the type to be pushed around, this profession is not for you. You will need to be highly motivated to accomplish some tasks because I can assure you that certain time; disappointments are going to be many.
In such moments, you will need to reassure yourself of your abilities because you will need reassurance quite a lot.
You will be frustrated many times in this profession. At such moments, patience will be the key to overcoming these temporary challenges.
Focus your mind on the big picture and work extremely hard to achieve your set goals.
I have seen many ladies complain that the dairy technology industry is male-dominated. For this reason, many ladies have reservations for venturing into the dairy industry.
That is crap! I have worked with a female Quality Assurance officer who was very competent at her job. She practically out-competed her male counterparts in terms of work ethics and capacity for work.
She was the best QC I ever worked with. I have also had female managers who performed exceptionally well, some of them with lesser academic qualifications.
The gender issue will only limit you if you allow it. Get to work ladies!
Read about how to overcome the urge to forgive up
There are many other traits that will help you in this profession. I highly felt I needed to highlight these.
You are free to add the other traits that you feel are necessary and critical to the success of a dairy technologist in the comments.
One who aspires to be a good dairy technologist should have a strong background in biology (especially bacteriology), physics, mathematics, chemistry, economics, human resource management, psychology, and accounting.
You will be working with chemicals, electrical and electronic equipment, bacterial cultures, documentation, and you will have to work with a team.
proper understanding of the chemical and biological aspects of various processes that you will be undertaking daily is critical. You will also need to monitor and manage the progress of your project.
You need a diploma and/or a higher degree
Once you have determined that you have these prerequisite backgrounds, start working towards getting your degree. Many higher institutions of learning offer a degree in dairy technology and related courses.
Obtaining a degree in this field will give you a voice and authority. You will get the necessary professional skills and knowledge to solve the problems in this industry.
You should note that you do not have to begin with pursuing a degree to become a dairy technologist. There are middle level colleges that specialize in dairy and offer certificate or artisan courses in dairy technology. You can start with these courses and work your way up to become a very reputable dairy technologist.
The advantage of working from the bottom is that you get a ton of exposure and experience along the way. This makes you properly equipped to handle the challenges of the industry better because you look at things from a practical perspective.
Personally, I undertook my Dairy Technology and Management degree course at Egerton University (Kenya). I have to confess that the University offers the best training in this region.
The courses are tailor-made to address the challenges that face a typical emerging economy. The exposure facilitates access to a pool of resources and alternate solutions that have worked in different parts of the world.
Opportunities For Dairy Technologists
Opportunities for further studies are available for those who would wish to narrow down into dairy technology at graduate level and postgraduate level studies.
You may even curve out a career as a dairy scholar/researcher. These are some of the best paying jobs in the leading dairy research institutions and universities around the world.
As a dairy technologist, you will be conducting experiments repeatedly during the course of your work. It is important to ensure that you maintain a high level of consistency to obtain reproducible results.
Your patience will determine if you obtain reliable results. You should be able to obtain reliable results consistently to assure food safety.
Once you have earned a reputation for high standards of work ethics, you have even a harder job at maintaining the reputation high.
Get Professional Certification
In order for you to have a sound professional standing, you may need to consider certification by a professional body.
In Kenya, there exists Kenya Institute of Food Scientists and Food Technologists (KIFST). This body is mandated with the responsibility, according to the agency’s mission statement, of “innovatively influencing the role of the contribution of Food Science and Technology to Kenya’s national development goals.”
You may also join Veterinary Technicians and Technologists Association of Kenya. these credentials will set you ahead of the pack when showcasing your qualifications to a prospective employer.
Belonging to these professional bodies also gives you an opportunity to network with individuals or organizations that will give you an opportunity to advance in your career as a Dairy Technologist.
What Else Does One Need To Be A Dairy Technologist?
I almost forgot something very crucial here. (On a lighter note)
You may consider signing up at a local gym to help you keeping your weight in check. If that is not your cup of vanilla yoghurt, then consider adopting a pet that you will take for a run every evening after work.
I prefer the latter option because it is free and it offers you the opportunity to explore your neighborhood.
This list is not exhaustive but it gives you a glimpse of what it takes to be a dairy technologist.
Kindly feel free to share your experiences and/or questions in the comments below.
If you have a question, kindly write to me.