Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacture of food and tobacco products.
What they do
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.
Food manufacturing facilities are typically large, open floor areas with loud machinery, requiring workers to wear ear protection to guard against noise. Workers are frequently exposed to high temperatures when working around cooking machinery. Some work in cold environments for long periods with goods that need to be refrigerated or frozen.
Depending on the type of food or tobacco being processed, workers may be required to wear masks, hair nets, or gloves to protect the product from possible contamination.
Workers usually stand for the majority of their shifts while tending machines or observing the production process. Loading, unloading, or cleaning equipment may require lifting, bending, and reaching.
How to become a Food and Tobacco Processing Worker
There are no formal education requirements for some food and tobacco processing workers. However, food batchmakers and food cooking machine operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Food and tobacco processing workers learn their skills through on-the-job training.
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.
Food and tobacco processing workers learn on the job. Training may last from a few weeks to a few months. During training, workers learn health and safety rules related to the type of food or tobacco that they process. Training also involves learning how to operate specific equipment, following safety procedures, and reporting equipment malfunctions.
Experienced workers typically teach trainees how to properly use and care for equipment.
The median annual wage for food and tobacco processing workers was $30,200 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,500.
Overall employment of food and tobacco processing workers is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Population growth and continuing consumer preference for convenience foods are expected to drive the demand for food, which will in turn require more food and tobacco processing workers to produce it. However, food manufacturing companies continue to pursue more automation in processing to raise productivity.
Similar Job Titles
Bean Roaster, Coffee Roaster, Line Operator, Machine Operator, Oven Operator, Oven Technician, Roast Master, Roaster, Roaster Operator, Roasterman
Food Batchmaker, Food Cooking Machine Operator and Tender, Molding/Coremaking and Casting Machine Setter, Packaging and Filling Machine Operator and Tender, Molding and Casting Worker
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- National Tobacco Retailers Association of America
- Federation of Dining Room Professionals
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
- National Restaurant Association
- Cigar Association of America
- UNITE HERE
- Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
- School Nutrition Association
Magazines and Publications
- Food and Beverage Magazine
- Pipes Magazine
- Food Business News
- Beverage Industry Magazine
- Today’s Hotelier Magazine
Food and tobacco processing workers understand what it takes to make the United States the largest food exporter in the world. They operate the equipment that manufactures food and tobacco products. These workers load equipment, and weigh and mix ingredients for recipes. They monitor production to ensure products meet quality standards. Food and tobacco processing workers specialize in different equipment and products: Roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders use ovens, roasters and other appliances to prepare food or tobacco products. Some workers dehydrate fruits, while others roast tobacco or coffee beans. Food batchmakers typically work in facilities that produce baked goods, pasta, and tortillas. They load and unload ovens, and make cheese and candy. Food cooking machine operators and tenders can fruits and vegetables, fry chips, bake snack foods, and make chocolates and other sweets. Food and tobacco processing workers work in large manufacturing facilities with loud machinery. High temperature equipment and cold storage environments are both common. Most food and tobacco processing workers work full time. Some production facilities are open only a few months each year, and require workers around the clock during their season. While food and tobacco processing workers learn their skills on the job, food batchmakers and cooking machine operators typically need a high school education.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org