SQF Auditor: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

SQF (safe quality food) auditors often require little formal education. Learn about the training, job experience and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A Safe Quality Food (SQF) auditor works on behalf of the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), performing inspections in food processing and storage facilities to ensure quality and safety standards are met. In order to serve as an auditor for SQFI, individuals must complete three vocational and safety courses, hold SQF certification, have at least 160 hours of relevant work experience as an auditor, and have at least five years of experience in the general food industry. In addition to these requirements, ongoing education is mandatory in order to maintain certification.

Essential Information

Safe Quality Food (SQF) auditors represent the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) to inspect food suppliers for food safety. This career may be satisfying to individuals who have a particular interest in nutrition and the quality of food supply. To become SQF auditors, candidates must successfully complete three required vocational training and safety courses and acquire the necessary food industry work experience to apply to the SQFI for certification.

Required Education Successful completion of three required vocational and safety training courses
Required Certification SQF certification through the SQFI is mandatory
Additional Requirements 160 hours or more of food-industry auditing and 5 years general food-industry work experience; continuing education required to maintain certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% for agricultural and food science technicians*
Average Annual Salary (2015) $43,810 for agricultural inspectors, $39,000 for agricultural and food science technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of an SQF Auditor

SQF auditors work as employees or contractors for certification bodies licensed by the SQFI. They observe and perform inspections of the manufacturing plants and storage facilities of food suppliers to determine compliance with food-safety standards. Upon the completion of audits, certification bodies make the final decision whether to grant SQF certificates to the suppliers.

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  • Food Processing
  • Food Science
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SQF Auditor Duties

In addition to performing audits of food suppliers for compliance with SQFI safety standards, SQF auditors may also ensure that food products match up to product specifications. They prepare reports detailing quality, safety and product issues for customers.

SQF auditors can work with other food company departments to correct product and safety defects as well as collaborate on improvements to new and existing products. They may often have to travel to different food supplier locations to perform audits. They may be responsible for training other auditors within their companies and must maintain their SQF credentials at all times.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have salary or employment data specifically for SQF auditors; however, it has data for the related field of agricultural and food science technicians, who are tasked with assessing quality for agricultural products and food. The BLS expected agricultural and food science technicians to see five percent growth in employment from 2014 until 2024.

In May 2015, the BLS noted that agricultural and food science technicians earned an average annual salary of $39,000, while agricultural inspectors earned an average of $43,810.

Requirements to Become an SQF Auditor

In order to register with the SQFI to become an SQF auditor, applicants must have received specific training and have a certain amount of food-industry work experience (www.sqfi.com). These requirements include completing two auditor-training courses (one through SQFI and one independent), one hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) system training course, 160 hours or more of food-industry auditing work and five years of general food-industry work experience.

The HACCP system is a safety system utilized in the food industry that controls hazards from raw materials to the finished product. Schools offer these courses to prepare students for HACCP auditor certification.

Once all the basic requirements for registration are met, prospective SQF auditors are then prepared to apply to become an auditor. The application process requires documentation of qualifications. After becoming an SQF professional, an auditor must participate in at least 15 hours of continuing education and four hours of an SQFI update annually.

While performing their inspection duties, auditors must adhere to SQFI safety standards and collect data to prepare reports about a product's quality. Their work often involves recommending improvements for defects, travelling to various locations to audit food suppliers, and sometimes training other auditors. The continuing education required to maintain SQFI certification consists of 15 hours of training and four hours of industry updates.

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