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Food processing worker

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Summary of occupation

Food processing workers operate machinery and perform other routine tasks involved in manufacturing and/or processing a range of food and drink products. The specific activities involved in food processing will vary depending on the product. Food may be sliced, ground, mixed, dried, cooked, baked, frozen, chilled, packaged or passed through a combination of these processes before it is ready for distribution. Food processing workers are responsible for operating the machines that carry out these processes, and monitoring the progress and quality of food products. They may also check and weigh raw materials, before adding them to the process. These workers must also ensure that a work environment is kept clean and hygienic.

ANZSCO description: Food processing workers operate machinery and perform other routine tasks involved in manufacturing and/or the processing of a range of food and drink products.
Alternative names: Food and Drink Factory Worker, Food Batchmaker, Food Machine Operator
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A food processing worker needs:

  • a high standard of personal cleanliness and hygiene
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • a reasonable level of fitness
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • the ability to maintain focus while carrying out repetitive tasks.
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Working conditions

Most food processing workers are employed in the Perth metropolitan region. However, there are significant employment opportunities for grain mill workers in the Wheatbelt, and for dairy processing workers in the South West region. The work environment may be noisy, dusty, wet, slippery, hot or cold, depending on the particular product and manufacturing processes being carried out. A high level of hygiene and cleanliness is always required when working with any food product. These workers are required to regularly wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap and wear protective clothing including hair nets, gloves, masks and overalls, which will help avoid contaminating products.

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Salary details

On average, food processing workers, classified under food and drink factory workers, can expect to earn on average $1 144 per week ($59 472 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. 

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Tools and technologies

Food processing workers use a variety of machinery for most processing and packaging tasks. Most factories have conveyor belts, labellers and packaging equipment, as well as more specialised machinery for particular products. Food processing workers will also use cleaning equipment, such as high pressure hoses and chemicals to ensure that machinery is kept clean and hygienic. In some cases, they may also use forklifts and trolleys to move raw materials and finished products around a factory.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a food processing worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. 

​You may improve your employment prospects if you complete a traineeship.The food processing traineeship takes 12 to 24 months to complete and is available as a school-based traineeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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