Fermentation describes the chemical process where microorganisms – usually yeast or bacteria – convert sugar into alcohols, acids, or gases.
Fermentation is used to make some of the most popular food and drinks that Americans consume, including beer, wine, spirits, yogurt, cheese, salami, and bread, among many others. The most common industries involved in fermentation are food and alcohol production; however, fermentation is an important component in a huge variety of careers that span numerous other industries, including:
- Health and wellness
- Sustainable energy
- Applied chemistry and microbiology
As an emerging field, careers in fermentation are often found in small businesses, so students interested in fermentation should also consider entrepreneurship.
What is Fermentation? (4:17) This quick video demonstrates the process of fermentation with sugar and yeast.
Cal Poly Student Clubs
Departments and Centers
- Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
- Food Science Department
- Wine and Viticulture Department
- Small Business Development Center Cal Poly
- Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Cal Poly Courses
- FSN 230 Elements of Food Processing
- FSN 341 Fermented Foods (SP)
- MCRO 301 Wine Microbiology (SP)
- WVIT 202 Fundamentals of Enology (F, SP)
- Fermentation Courses offered through CP Extended Education
In a niche field such as fermentation, one of the most effective ways to find an internship is to directly contact a prospective employer. Be prepared to share why you are interested in interning, what you hope to learn, and what you can contribute.
- Informational Interviewing Worksheet
- Networking Presentation (Prezi)
- Fermenters Club - Fermenters Club is a community of food enthusiasts who share a love for traditionally-preserved, natural probiotic foods. Fermenters can participate locally and virtually.
Common Areas of Focus
- Brewing Production
- Wine Production
- Distillation Technologies
- Food and Beverage Processing
- Applied Biotechnology
- Waste and Water Treatment
- Development of Sustainable Energy Resources
- Process Engineering
- Synthetic Genomics (biotechnology)
- Microvi Biotechnologies (water treatment)
- Althea (biotech)
Job Titles and Salaries
- Fermentation Specialist - $64,000 (SimplyHired)
- Fermentation Engineer - $54,000-$62,000 (GlassDoor)
- Fermentation Scientist - $73,012 (GlassDoor)