Food Manufacturing Specialist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a food manufacturing specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and the employment outlook for this industry to find out if this is the career for you.

A food manufacturing specialist oversees the various processes involved with food production in order to ensure quality and nutritional standards are maintained, and that the microbial contamination of food is limited as well. They might also ensure that products are produced in a cost-efficient manner and that packaging is not harmful to the environment. A bachelor's degree in a field such as food science or engineering is generally required.

Essential Information

Food manufacturing specialists, sometimes referred to as food manufacturing operations engineers, coordinate food processing procedures. In addition to having attained a bachelor's degree in engineering, food science or a related field, food manufacturing specialists typically have more than five years of experience in the field. Some specialists hold advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Microbiology. They also often have training in production improvement techniques and methods.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in engineering, food science or a related field
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6.8% for all industrial production managers
Mean Salary (2015)* $92,468 for industrial production managers

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Description for a Food Manufacturing Specialist

Food manufacturing specialists use their expertise in food engineering, manufacturing and quality control to establish production processes and activities. These professionals typically either monitor production within a food processing plant or travel to processing facilities in order to supervise quality control. Food manufacturing specialists may also work for government agencies, enforcing compliance with government regulations or advising companies and plant managers on areas of improvement.

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Food Manufacturing Specialist Duties

Food manufacturing specialists review food processing to ensure that food retains nutritional value. This may include analyzing processed food in laboratories for quality. Additionally, food manufacturing specialists use their knowledge in food microbiology to reduce food contamination by microbes. These professionals may also experiment with chemical reactions within food processing, such as the addition of preservatives.

Food manufacturing specialists may have received training in efficient manufacturing programs, like Lean Six Sigma. Accordingly, specialists are able to implement these processes into food manufacturing. For example, food manufacturing specialists who determine a slowdown in demand for one product may shift resources like personnel and machinery away from that product and to a different product that is in higher demand. Similarly, these professionals may train associates in all aspects of production within the facility so that they can shift employees around during worker absences or vacation periods.

Aside from monitoring production efficiency, food manufacturing specialists also research and develop cost-efficient and environmentally friendly food packaging. Specialists may test different plastics and adhesives to see which provides the best seal. They may also review how food interacts with packaging over time or in varying temperatures.

Outlook for a Food Manufacturing Specialist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide specific information for food manufacturing specialists; however, the bureau projected about a six percent growth in employment of industry production managers in all industries between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In the category of food processing occupations, the BLS predicted butchers and meat cutters could expect job growth of five percent from 2014-2024. Industrial production managers in the food manufacturing industry earned mean wages of $92,468 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The BLS reported median annual salaries of $29,130 for butchers and $25,220 for all other food processing workers as of May 2015.

Some of the professional training that food manufacturing specialists have completed might include a program like Lean Six Sigma. Duties involved in this career involve monitoring a processing plant's food production and supervising quality control checks; additionally, many of these professionals also advise production facilities on compliance and regulatory standards laid out by the government. Industry production managers are expected to see about a seven percent increase in job opportunities over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.


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