Food processing workers
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Overview
Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacture of food and tobacco products.
Workforce size
Food processing workers (specialized areas), with 46,400 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for food processing workers (specialized areas) are expected to grow by 7%, and should have about 5,600 job openings a year.
Education
Only 4% of food processing workers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by food processing workers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer food processing workers have bachelor's degrees than 87% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 94% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for food processing workers (specialized areas). The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most food processing workers (specialized areas).
This job's median $26KAll jobs' median $39K$25K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 32% of food processing workers -- that's a smaller percentage than 53% of other jobs.
Gender of food processing workers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For food processing workers, the median men's salary was 16% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 30% of food processing workers are minority, and 37% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of food processing workers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (37%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Food Processing Workers (Specialized Areas) per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 55% of food processing workers, and 68% have company-sponsored health insurance (15% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for food processing workers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do food processing workers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for food processing workers (specialized areas), and then we show how the middle (median) salary for food processing workers (specialized areas) compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for food processing workers (specialized areas) (BLS Salary Data)
$26K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$26K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all food processing workers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for food processing workers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for food processing workers (ACS Salary Data)
$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where food processing workers (specialized areas) work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Food processing workers (ACS)
Private for-profit (98.0%)
Private not-for-profit (1.0%)
Local government (0.1%)
State government (0.1%)
Federal government (0.1%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.3%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.5%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of food processing workers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$31K$31K$32K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Private not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of food processing workers (specialized areas) by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$26K$26K$0$10,000$20,000$30,000$40,000PrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for food processing workers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$35K$36K$36K$33K$31K$32K$29K$22K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15K20KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Food processing workers and gender

With 32% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 53% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
32%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Food processing workers
Men (68%)
Women (32%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for food processing workers, with the median salary for men 16% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$28K$32K$0$20K$40K$60KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Food processing workers have one of the middle percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job higher than that for 46% of other jobs.

16%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of food processing workers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority food processing workers than for 88% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of food processing workers
White (59% )
Black (18% )
Other (11% )
Asian (8% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
30%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
37%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for food processing workers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$27K$29K$30K$30K$31K$32K$32K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherMultiracialBlackHispanicAsianAmerican IndianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for food processing workers by nativity
$28K$33K$0$20K$40K$60KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by food processing workers (specialized areas)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food processing workers (specialized areas) typically hold no formal educational credential.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as food processing workers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for food processing workers.

Education attained by food processing workers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for food processing workers (specialized areas)

Food batchmakers and food cooking machine operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Because workers often adjust the quantity of ingredients that go into a mix, math and reading skills are considered helpful.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for food processing workers? Below we see the distribution of food processing workers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as food processing workers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$26K$32K$35K$35K$38K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KNone (27%)High School (46%)Some College (19%)Associate's Degree (4%)Bachelor's Degree (3%)
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for food processing workers

What jobs will most food processing workers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of food processing workers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Food processing workersPackaging and filling machine operatorsHand laborers and freight, stock, and material moversButchers and other meat processing workersProduction workersFood batchmakersFirst-line supervisors of production and operating workersIndustrial truck and tractor operatorsFood preparation workersHand packers and packagersAgricultural product graders and sortersIndustrial and refractory machinery mechanicsManagers (specialized areas)First-line supervisors of retail sales workersAgricultural workers (specialized areas)
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for food processing workers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 10 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as food processing workers as well as 1% of respondents after working as food processing workers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for food processing workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers
389,900
$0$200K$28K
Agricultural workers (specialized areas)
129,300
$0$200K$21K
Hand packers and packagers
108,600
$0$200K$21K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Industrial truck and tractor operators
66,000
$0$200K$31K
Butchers and other meat processing workers
47,000
$0$200K$28K
Packaging and filling machine operators
44,600
$0$200K$25K
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
33,200
$0$200K$50K
Food batchmakers
21,800
$0$200K$27K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for food processing workers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as food processing workers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of food processing workers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for food processing workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
1.6%
Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers
389,900
$0$200K$28K
3.3%
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
376,900
$0$200K$41K
1.1%
Cooks
358,700
$0$200K$21K
1.1%
Janitors and building cleaners
350,300
$0$200K$27K
2.2%
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
2.1%
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
153,100
$0$200K$48K
1.1%
Agricultural workers (specialized areas)
129,300
$0$200K$21K
1.5%
Hand packers and packagers
108,600
$0$200K$21K
2.2%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.4%
Industrial truck and tractor operators
66,000
$0$200K$31K
3.0%
Butchers and other meat processing workers
47,000
$0$200K$28K
4.3%
Packaging and filling machine operators
44,600
$0$200K$25K
6.7%
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
4.3%
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
33,200
$0$200K$50K
2.1%
Food batchmakers
21,800
$0$200K$27K
2.6%
Food processing workers
5,600
$0$200K$31K
23.9%
No occupation
10.1%
Read about food processing workers (specialized areas)
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Food and tobacco processing workers typically do the following:

  • Set up, start, or load food or tobacco processing equipment
  • Check, weigh, and mix ingredients according to recipes
  • Set and control temperatures, flow rates, and pressures of machinery
  • Monitor and adjust ingredient mixes during production processes
  • Observe and regulate equipment gauges and controls
  • Record batch production data
  • Clean workspaces and equipment in accordance with health and safety standards
  • Check final products to ensure quality

Food and tobacco processing workers often have different duties depending on the type of machinery they use or goods they process.

Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders operate machines that produce roasted, baked, or dried food or tobacco products. For example, dryers of fruits and vegetables operate machines that produce raisins, prunes, or other dehydrated foods. Tobacco roasters tend machines that cure tobacco for wholesale distribution to cigarette manufacturers and other makers of tobacco products. Others, such as coffee roasters, follow recipes and tend machines to produce standard or specialty coffees.

Food batchmakers typically work in facilities that produce baked goods, pasta, and tortillas. Workers mix ingredients to make dough, load and unload ovens, operate pasta extruders, and perform tasks specific to large-scale commercial baking. Some workers are identified by the type of food they produce. For example, those who prepare cheese are known as cheese makers and those who make candy are known as candy makers.

Food cooking machine operators and tenders operate or tend cooking equipment to prepare food products. For example, potato and corn chip manufacturing workers operate baking and frying equipment.

Other workers operate machines that mix spices, mill grains, or extract oil from seeds.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of food processing workers (specialized areas)? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Detail oriented
Workers must be able to detect small changes in the quality or quantity of food products. They must also closely follow health and safety standards to avoid food contamination and injury.
Physical stamina
Workers stand on their feet for long periods as they tend machines and monitor the production process.
Physical strength
Food and tobacco processing workers should be strong enough to lift or move heavy boxes of ingredients, which may weigh up to 50 pounds.
Math skills
Workers need to know math skills in order to accurately mix specific quantities of ingredients.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for food processing workers (specialized areas)
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 94% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for food processing workers (specialized areas). This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $26KAll jobs' median $39K$25K$38K2012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for food processing workers (specialized areas) are anticipated to grow by 7% over the next decade; 51% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for food processing workers (specialized areas) is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most food processing workers (specialized areas)? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as food processing workers (specialized areas). You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Food Processing Workers (Specialized Areas) per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.01.02.03.04.05.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where food processing workers (specialized areas) earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for food processing workers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for food processing workers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Food Processing Workers (Specialized Areas) to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which food processing workers (specialized areas) earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
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