Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and Profiles » Manufacturing & Production

Food Processing Technician Job Description, Career as a Food Processing Technician, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

technicians usually inspectors plants

Education and Training: Two-year college

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

About three-fourths of the food sold in stores in this country has been processed or cooked to some extent before the consumer buys it. Food processing plants employ food processing technicians, who work in laboratories and as salespeople. Food processing technicians also work as inspectors for state and federal agencies that regulate the food processing industry.

Technicians in laboratories help with quality control testing or research. They usually work under the direction of food scientists who plan experiments or supervise laboratory operations. Technicians must keep records, fill out forms, and write reports. Food processing technicians may run tests designed to check for bacteria, impurities, or poisons in processed foods. Often they use instruments that check the quality of food, including its taste, smell, and color. Technicians use standard laboratory equipment, including test tubes, flasks, scales, and balances. They may also monitor dials and gauges and use microscopes. Sometimes they use specialized equipment. There is, for example, a machine that measures the amount of juice in turkey meat.

Some food processing technicians work as production supervisors and managers. They supervise workers or operate machinery. In some dairy plants, for example, a single technician can run the entire plant by reading dials and watching machinery on closed-circuit television. Technicians in large plants are responsible for spot checks on equipment and products. For example, they may make sure that vegetables are heated to the proper temperature before they are canned.

A food processing technician inspects the bottling process looking for ways to establish production and packaging standards. (© Louie Psihoyos/Corbis.)

Some food processing technicians are inspectors for federal and state government agencies. Their job is to make sure that laws concerning food quality and handling are followed. Inspectors visit food processing companies to make sure that plants are safe and clean. Some inspectors run laboratory tests. Inspectors usually write reports on their findings, and they may have to appear at government hearings. They usually specialize in one area, such as fruits and vegetables or meat products. Many inspectors work for agencies that regulate the dairy industry.

Education and Training Requirements

It is possible to become a food processing technician through on-the-job training. Most employers, however, prefer to hire beginners who have some college or technical training in food processing, laboratory science, or related fields. Some two-year colleges and technical schools offer programs leading to an associate degree. Basic courses can be taken in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and food processing. Courses in nutrition, microbiology, and the use of food processing equipment offer good preparation. Courses are also available in specialized areas of food processing, such as dairy manufacturing and vegetable processing. Many two-year programs include supervised work experiences that give students a chance to apply their knowledge and learn new skills.

Getting the Job

School work-study programs are a good source of contacts that may lead to a full-time job. Instructors and placement offices at schools with programs in food processing may be able to help candidates get a job as a technician. Some food processing companies send recruiters to these schools to find qualified technicians. They may advertise for technicians in newspaper want ads. Prospective food processing technicians can also apply directly to companies in the food processing industry. If working for a government agency is preferable, candidates may apply to take the necessary civil service test.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

As they gain experience, food processing technicians can qualify for jobs that bring higher pay and more responsibility. With further education they may become food scientists or food technologists. A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for these high-level jobs.

The employment outlook for technicians with college or technical training is expected to be good through the year 2012. Many technicians will be needed for laboratory positions in quality control and research.

Working Conditions

Technicians who work in quality control laboratories usually work thirty-five to forty hours a week. They work in small groups with other technicians and scientists. They operate delicate instruments and must keep accurate records. Technicians may do the same kind of routine work every day. Those who assist in production usually work in clean, well-lighted plants. They may work night shifts and weekends.

Government inspectors usually travel from their headquarters to food processing plants. Although they work an average of forty hours a week, their hours are often irregular.

Where to Go for More Information

Institute of Food Technologists
525 W. Van Buren, Ste. 1000
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 782-8424

National Food Processors Association
1350 I St. NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20005-5963
(202) 639-5900

National Prepared Food Association
485 Kinderkamack Rd., Second Fl.
Oradell, NJ 07649
(201) 634-1870

Earnings and Benefits

The salary for food processing technicians varies according to skill, experience, and level of education, but ranges from $25,000 to $35,000 per year. Benefits generally include health insurance, paid vacations and holidays, and pension plans.

Food Science Technician Job Description, Career as a Food Science Technician, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job [next] [back] Food Processing Occupations Job Description, Career as a Food Processing Occupations, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

about 8 years ago

what are the job duties of a food processing plant worker?

Vote down Vote up

about 8 years ago

hai sir i want job in food sector plz call me or send detailse to my id 0091-9948605092


Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

I am a Postgraduate in Foods and Nutrition looking for a job in a food industry. Kindly help me or send me details to my ID.

Vote down Vote up

about 7 years ago

There are several food production plants near where I live in eastern North Carolina, however, I am not certain where I may obtain a Food Processing Technician certification and/or OTJ training/experience. I worked at a QA lab tech in 2000 at a local pickle plant during one "green season". I need to find a technical college that offers a program in food technology/technician in either Duplin, Sampson, Lenoir or Wayne County (within 35 miles of my home). Also, what are the requirements to work as an inspector for the state or federal government at restaurants or food processing plants? Thanks for your help. ALF

Vote down Vote up

over 7 years ago

I have done my DAE in food technology 03 years from GCT faisal abad.

Vote down Vote up

over 7 years ago

I have done my DAE in food technology 03 years from GCT faisal abad.

Vote down Vote up

about 8 years ago

could you help me ,please?

I want to know the Job description for Food Technicien who work at hospital.

send it please to me by email.

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

I am a Graduate in chemistry and working last 15 years in dairy indstry looking for a job in a Dairy industry. Kindly help me or send me details to my ID.

yours faithfully

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

The article about the opening as the Food processing technician was really good one. This web site is doing a great job as you people are providing the career opportunities to young people and students. Keep up the good work guys.