Food processing worker essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $23,140
- 2012, number of jobs: 37,570
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 12 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Less than high school
Food processing workers; what they do:
Long before food makes it to the grocery stores for us to buy, food processing workers typically have a hand in preparing it for sale and consumption. Food processing workers include butchers, meat cutters; meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers; and roasting, baking, and drying machinery operators and tenders.
A food processing career may include preparing food for the public’s purchase and consumption through cutting, trimming, and various forms of processing on foods and some non-food items, such as tobacco.
One of the more familiar food processing jobs, a butcher involves cutting steaks and chops, tying roasts, and grinding meat for sale. A butcher career also includes keeping knives sharpened, equipment clean and updated, and maintaining an inventory stocked with fresh products. A butcher career also includes packaging meats for display cases and accommodating special orders.
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers generally work in assembly line fashion, performing a single skilled cut, placing fish or chickens on a conveyor belt, or performing inspections of the product. These food processing workers use hand tools such as vacuums, knives, and saws. Sharpening tools and labeling products is also part of a meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers’ daily tasks.
Roasting, baking, and drying machinery operators and tenders control temperature, humidity, and pressure of their machines, as well as regularly watching, touching, and smelling the product to ensure their machines are working properly.
Food processing worker job titles:
- Meat Cutter
- Poultry Eviscerater
- Fish Filleter
- Oyster Shucker
- Shrimp Picker
- Meat Roaster
- Meat Dryer
- Fish Smoker
- Commercial Baker
- Tortilla Maker
- Coffee Roaster
- Tobacco Roaster
- Dryer of Fruit and Vegetables
Food Processing Workers Education, Certification and License Requirements
People interested in a food processing career typically don’t need formal education; most food processing workers receive on-the-job training. On-the-job training varies from days to months, and occasionally a year or more, depending on the specific job and size of the operation.
Depending on the position desired, some food processing workers may benefit from obtaining a degree in dairy science or a Bachelor or Associate’s of Meat Merchandising or Meat Marketing.
Food processing worker programs cover subjects such as:
- Food safety
- Portion control
- Knife handling
- Primal fabrication
Some food handlers need certification from an appropriate government agency. Food processing workers working for a business following religious guidelines for food preparation may need to earn a certification or undergo an apprenticeship, or both.
Food Processing Workers Job Outlook
Forecast: 12 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for food processing workers, on par with the average for all occupations.
The public’s demand for more prepared food, partially prepared food, pre-cut food, and easy-to-cook foods increases the demand for food processing workers. However, the consolidation of the food processing industry and a more streamlined production process lowers employment growth.
Increased demand for food processing workers and a steady turnover creates good employment opportunities for people seeking a food processing job.
Food Processing Workers Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $23,140
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $28,680
- 2012, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $19,650
- Retail stores
- Manufacturing plants