Food Manufacturer: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in agricultural manufacturing. Read on to learn more about career options along with duties, required training and salary information. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Food Manufacturer?

There are a variety of jobs available within the field of food manufacturing. Three possible job titles include meat packer, cooking machine operator and food batchmaker. Meat packers work at wholesale establishments, where they cut standard and premium cuts of meat for sale, sausage making or wrapping. Cooking machine operators run the machines that are used to prepare cooked food products, such as cooked and preserved fruits and vegetables. Food batchmakers usually work at large-scale commercial baking companies, where they mix ingredients and bake food items such as bread, pasta and tortillas. However, it is also possible to specialize in making batches of other types of foods, such as cheese and candy.

Explore the typical duties of a food manufacturing worker, from processing to packaging food products. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Meat Packer Cooking Machine Operator Food Batchmaker
Education Required High school diploma High school diploma High school diploma
Degree Required Bachelor's for management positionBachelor's for management positionBachelor's for management position
Training Required On-the-job On-the-job On-the-job
Key Skills or Key Responsibilities Pack and cut meat Cook bulk food Mix bulk food
Job Growth (2014-2024) -1%* 1%* 0%*
Median Salary (2015) $25,650* $27,760* $26,950*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties As a Food Manufacturer?

As a food manufacturer, you'd gather, process, package and distribute food. You may be responsible for ensuring that raw vegetables, fruits and dairy products are collected in a safe, regulated manner. You could be involved in delivering products to retail locations, restaurants, wholesalers and customers. You may also find a position in the meat industry, where you're responsible for slaughtering, cleaning, processing and packaging chicken, beef, pork and other types of meat.

What Are Some of My Career Options?

Food manufacturing is a broad field that encompasses many positions, ranging from machine operators to business executives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that most food manufacturers work in animal slaughtering and processing plants. If you decide to work for this segment of the industry, you might find a position as a meatpacker or meat cutter, where your primary responsibilities are to pack and cut meat.

Alternatively, as a machine operator, you might specialize on a particular type of machine, such as a grinding, slicing, dairy processing, forming or stuffing machine. You could also be a batchmaker or cooking machine operator, responsible for mixing or cooking food in bulk.

If you have a college degree or several years of experience in manufacturing, you could be eligible for a position as a production manager, supervisor or production inspector. In such a position, you're responsible for hiring and training crews, overseeing production lines and making sure that daily food production meets regulatory standards. You might also work as an industrial production manager, a sales manager or a corporate executive.

What Training Will I Need?

If you decide to work as a food production worker, meat packer or meat cutter, you may be required to have a high school education, according to the BLS. Many meat processing facilities provide on-the-job training to teach you sanitary and safe ways to slaughter and process meat sources. Some community colleges and vocational centers offer certificate and apprenticeship programs to help prepare you for work as a meat cutter.

If you'd like to work in a management or executive role in the food manufacturing industry, you typically need at least a bachelor's degree, per the BLS. A degree in business administration, accounting or sales might provide you with the business knowledge and management skills necessary to find a career in the field.

However, you might also prepare specifically for a career in the food industry by earning a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology. Such degree programs provide you with an overview of the food industry and food processing technology, in addition to management and accounting.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to the BLS. Slaughterers and meat packers earned a median annual wage of $25,650 in 2015. Cooking machine operators earned $27,760 in 2015, and food batchmakers earned a median salary of $26,950.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in preparing food on a smaller scale, you could consider getting a job as a cook in a restaurant. They work under the supervision of chefs and food service managers to prepare appetizers, entrees and/or desserts for the restaurant's customers. Cooks are not required to have formal training, but completing a postsecondary culinary arts program can help boost your skills. Another option in the food industry is a position as a butcher in a retail shop. They order a wide range of wholesale meat cuts from processing plants, and then they cut, trim and wrap it for individual customers. Butchers do not need to fulfill any educational requirements.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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