Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Guest Account Sign In Sign Up

Agricultural Products Processing Machine Operator

Agricultural products processing machine operators run machines that process and package food and beverage products.

  • Avg. Salary $41,759.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.56
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 4,000
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Food and Beverage Processing Machine Operator, Fruit and Vegetable Processing Machine Operator, Grain Processing Machine Operator, Meat Processing Machine Operator, Milk Processing Machine Operator, Sugar Processing Machine Operator, Production Worker

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing (9461.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Process Control and Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing (J171) 
  • 2011 NOC: Process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing (9461) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Agricultural Products Processing Machine Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing

Interest in operating processing and packaging machines and equipment


Interest in comparing information to make sure products conform to company standards; and in recording production data such as quantities, weights, sizes, dates and types of packaged products


Interest in setting up and adjusting processing and packaging machines

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 16, 2016

Agricultural products processing machine operators operate a variety of machines depending on the type of product being processed, the methods used and the size of the organization and plant.

In general, agricultural products processing machine operators:

  • operate single function and multi-function processing machines
  • observe gauges, computer printouts and video monitors to ensure correct processing
  • make adjustments as required
  • complete process control forms to document line activity
  • complete food safety checks
  • sanitize machinery and equipment before and after use
  • maintain shift logs of production and other data
  • prepare products for wholesale or retail distribution
  • check product quality and adjust as necessary.

Depending on the type of operation, they also may:

  • set up or adjust machines for specific processing operations
  • package and label products for sale
  • record production information
  • serve customers
  • load transport trucks.

Dairy plant machine operators run machines that pasteurize milk or process and package dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, butter, non-fat dry milk and condensed milk.

Fruit and vegetable machine operators operate machines that clean, wash, sort, trim, peel and cut fruit and vegetables. They also may operate machines that process fruit and vegetables and package products for sale.

Grain processing machine operators process grain into animal feed or food products such as flour, cereal, pasta, cooking oil, margarine or beer. They also may process peas, beans, chickpeas and mustard.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Working conditions for agricultural products processing machine operators vary. Most production line work is performed indoors in warm, sanitary and well-ventilated conditions. Some agricultural products processing machine operators work in cold storage or freezing departments; in grain processing plants which can be dusty, near noisy machinery; or near cooking or sanitizing operations that generate heat and create humid surroundings. In some settings, machine operators work beside one another in relatively small spaces.

Production line processing often is highly mechanized and automated. Machine operators must follow safe work practices and may be required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms.

Some plants operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week so employees work rotating shifts.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Machine operators need the following characteristics:

  • good health and stamina
  • a high degree of co-ordination and manual dexterity
  • the ability to work steadily and swiftly
  • the ability to perform routine tasks yet remain alert and flexible
  • the ability to read and understand written specifications and instructions, and adapt to new technologies
  • the mechanical aptitude required to maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems.

They should enjoy operating and controlling equipment, having clear rules and organized methods for their work, and adjusting machines and process variables such as cooking times and temperatures.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There are no standard educational requirements for work in a processing plant. However, employers may require job applicants to have a high school diploma or, for more complex tasks, related post-secondary education. The degree of skill required to operate processing machinery varies depending on the nature of the operation.

On-the-job training is provided to teach workers how to operate and maintain machines, and troubleshoot mechanical problems. Depending on the nature of the equipment, three months or more of on-the-job experience may be required before a machine operator is ready to work independently. In some situations, workers may be cross-trained on other machines as well.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Pasteurizer operators are required to obtain a pasteurizer operator's license by successfully completing a mandatory three-and-a-half day licensing course. Licenses must be renewed annually. 

Most machine operators involved in food processing are required to annually complete food safety, good manufacturing practice (GMP) and worker safety training.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Agricultural products processing machine operators are employed by food and beverage processing plants such as:

  • bakeries
  • breweries
  • dairies
  • flour mills
  • fruit and vegetable processing plants
  • meat plants
  • sugar refineries
  • seed plants and feedmills.

New employees usually start as general plant help and may be rotated throughout the plant to gain overall exposure to the plant's operation. Advancement from general plant help to skilled positions requires specific on-the-job training. Employees skilled in a specific production process may advance to positions such as lead hand or shift supervisor.

Agricultural products processing machine operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9461: Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing. In Alberta, 84% of people employed in this classification work in the Manufacturing (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Manufacturing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,300 Albertans are employed in the Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 59 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As agricultural products processing machine operators form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for agricultural products processing machine operators.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Salaries vary considerably depending on the size and nature of the plant and the level of skill required.

Process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.20 $26.00 $18.06 $17.00
Overall $14.00 $32.00 $20.56 $20.25
Top $14.00 $37.00 $25.17 $25.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Wholesale Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

Was this page useful?