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Hungry? 10 jobs that let you sample food

By Laura Morsch
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( -- Most of us sample plenty of food during our work weeks -- leftover pasta from working lunches, mousse cakes from baby showers, and fistfuls of miniature chocolate bars from co-workers' candy jars.

While some of us are content with eating bags and bags of chips, these 10 jobs allow food lovers to get their munchies at work without ever heading to a vending machine.

Sommelierexternal link The job: If you think being a sommelier is just about knowing wine, think again. Sure, sommeliers are grape gurus, but their specialty is choosing wines to compliment patrons' entrees.

The requirements: It varies. Experience as a server and wine classes at a community college or professional organization can provide a solid foundation. To become a master sommelier -- the highest professional distinction in the industry -- candidates must pass three levels of examinations from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

The pay: Ranges from $35,000 to $149,000, with an average reported salary of $68,125, according to a 2005 survey.

Event Plannerexternal link The job: Event planners put together meetings, conferences, parties and other events. This means selecting the venue, activities and, of course, the food.

The requirements: Most event planners have a bachelor's degree, and the Convention Industry Council offers a voluntary certification.

The pay: Average annual salary was $44,590 in 2005.*

Chefexternal link The job: Chefs plan, prepare and cook food for restaurants and other institutions. They also supervise the rest of the kitchen staff.

The requirements: The only formal requirement is extensive experience. Many chefs also attend postsecondary training programs offered by two- and four-year colleges.

The pay: Average annual salary was $35,840 in 2005.

Quality Control Technicianexternal link The job: Quality control technicians ensure a company's food is uniform in taste, color, safety and quality. They work in food manufacturing plants to test food and manufacturing methods before, during and after processing.

The requirements: It varies by employer, but many companies require at least an associate's degree.

The pay: Average salary was $33,260 in 2005.

Food Scientistexternal link The job: Food scientists use their science background to develop new ways of processing and packaging food. Some analyze nutritional content of foods; others develop new flavors and preservatives.

The requirements: At least a bachelor's degree, with coursework in food chemistry and engineering.

The pay: Average annual salary was $56,840 in 2005.

Catererexternal link The job: Caterers work with their clients' tastes to create menus and prepare and serve food for special events like conferences and weddings.

The requirements: Many caterers got their start as chefs or cooks. In addition to their cooking skills, many caterers are self-employed, so good communication skills and business savvy are crucial.

The pay: Average annual salary for catering managers is about $50,000, according to

Restaurant Critic The job: Restaurant critics dine at restaurants, sample their food, and observe the service and atmosphere to write reviews for a publication.

The requirements: Excellent writing skills are a must, and many employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in journalism or English.

The pay: Average annual salary for reporters was $40,370 in 2005.

Dieticianexternal link The job: Dieticians teach patients proper eating habits and recommend dietary adjustments, such as cutting out excess salt or avoiding processed foods.

The requirements: Forty-six states have laws governing dieticians, including licensure, certification and/or registration. Most states require supervised practice, which can be obtained through a formal program or an internship. Once accredited, dieticians must complete 75 hours of continued education classes every five years.

The pay: Average annual salary was $45,950 in 2005.

Serverexternal link The job: Waiters and waitresses -- also known as servers -- take customers' orders, bring food to the tables and prepare checks. They also must be experts in the restaurant's menu, because they will inevitably be asked, "What do you recommend?"

The requirements:Many employers require a high school diploma, and upscale restaurants usually prefer candidates with serving experience.

The pay: Average annual salary was $16,310 in 2005.

Product Promoterexternal link The job: Product promoters offer customers free samples of food or drinks in grocery stores to bolster sales.

The requirements: Many employers have no educational requirements and provide on-the-job training. Other employers require at least a high school diploma.

The pay: Average annual salary was $24,570 in 2005.

* All salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics unless otherwise denoted.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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