USA Career Guide- Food Processing Occupations

Education & Training needed to be Food Processing Occupations

There are no formal education requirements for workers in food processing occupations; workers receive on-the-job training. Butchers usually enter the occupation after getting experience in a position such as a meat cutter in a grocery store or a line worker in a meat processing facility. Food preparation workers may need to be certified by the appropriate governmental agency to ensure conformity with health standards. Education and training for certification will most likely be carried out on the job.


Food handlers may need to be certified by an appropriate government agency. Specialized workers, including butchers who follow religious guidelines for food preparation, may be required to undergo a lengthy apprenticeship, certification process, or both before becoming completely qualified and endorsed by an organization to perform their duties.

Pay of Food Processing Occupations

The median annual wage of food processing occupations was $23,950 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,600, and the top 10 percent earned more than $40,350.
Median wages for food processing occupations in May 2010 were as follows:
$28,600 for butchers and meat cutters
$27,140 for food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders
$22,330 for meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

Job Prospects of Food Processing Occupations

Employment of food processing occupations is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. A growing global population and increasing wealth among developing countries should cause demand for meat to increase worldwide. This is especially true for U.S.-made food products because they are produced to comparatively high food safety standards. Increased demand and steady turnover create good prospects for those wanting to enter food processing occupations.

Industrial Overview of Food Processing Occupations

There were about 311,300 food processing jobs in 2010. Most butchers and meat cutters work in retail stores, such as grocery stores. Most meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers work in food manufacturing plants.
About 9 percent of butchers and meat cutters worked in animal slaughtering and processing plants in 2010.The retail food and beverage stores accounted for 18 percent of employment for meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers in 2010.

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