How to Become a Food Safety and Quality Manager

Aug 10, 2018

Research the requirements to become a food safety and quality manager. Learn about the job description and duties and see the step-by-step process to start a career in food safety. View article »

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  • 0:04 Food Safety & Quality Manager
  • 1:13 Earn Undergraduate Degree
  • 1:59 Consider Grad School
  • 2:19 Gain Experience
  • 3:18 Get HACCP Training

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Video Transcript

Food Safety and Quality Manager Career Info

Food safety and quality managers typically make sure that all regulatory guidelines and requirements regarding food safety are followed. The manager may work in a variety of industries, including food-manufacturing facilities, food corporations, or food warehouses. The food safety and quality manager is responsible for ensuring workers handle, process, and package food according to government food standards. Other duties may include conducting safety audits, teaching employees or clients about food safety, solving problems, and responding to safety emergencies.

Food safety and quality managers may work on their feet in noisy or cold factory conditions. Professionals may also work around animal byproducts. Managers are likely to work regularly scheduled, full-time hours. They should have effective organizational skills, problem solving abilities, a familiarity with food safety regulations and guidelines, and the ability to work with minimal supervision. Payscale.com found that quality control managers as a group earned a median annual salary of $64,848 in 2016.

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Although there isn't a single path for becoming a food safety and quality manager, earning a degree in food science or a related field gives students a good knowledge base to prepare them to work in the field. Educational requirements for the position can range from having a high school diploma to completing a master's degree.

Food science degree programs cover the technological and scientific aspects of food and related products. The training is usually interdisciplinary, including courses that teach students about food technology, food packaging, and the relationship between food, personal health, and the environment. The curriculum typically involves food-specific courses, such as food processing, hygienic principles of food handling, food borne diseases, and food microbiology.

Consider a Grad School

Some employers look for applicants with a master's degree. Food science master's degree programs require specialized courses in food chemistry, food microbiology, and food processing. Some master's degree programs end with the presentation and defense of a student's thesis based on individual research done throughout the year.

Gain Experience

According to online job postings, one of the major requirements for obtaining a job as a food safety and quality manager is having work experience. Employers expect candidates to have at least two to five years of experience in quality and food safety or food manufacturing. This experience can be obtained through a combination of methods, starting by taking advantage of internship opportunities while earning a degree.

An internship can familiarize prospective managers with the necessary rules and regulations, such as those defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture. Requirements for internship programs vary by school, but generally include proof of food science program enrollment and a junior or senior standing. Internship experience may make it easier to gain entry-level employment. Entry-level food safety and quality jobs typically include working with supervision while gaining hands-on experience.

Get HACCP Training

In order to advance to a managerial position, many employers require candidates to be familiar with or certified in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). A major aspect of a food safety and quality manager's job is making sure employees adhere to specific national regulations and guidelines. The FDA is responsible for many of these regulations and oversees systems such as the HACCP procedure. HACCP is an internationally recognized approach to food safety.

Organizations or university extension programs often offer HAACP certification. These programs include training on subjects such as standard operating sanitation procedures, hazard analysis, food sanitation, and risk analysis. After completing training, students must pass an exam.

Additional food safety training may be required, depending on the industry. For example, the ServSafe or Foodservice Management Professional certifications may be needed for food quality managers who work in a restaurant or food service establishment. Some certifications may require periodic renewal, which might include completing continuing education.

To recap, the requirements to become a food safety and quality manager vary from job to job, but most employers look for candidates who have some postsecondary education, on-the-job experience, and even certification.

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