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Agricultural Products Processing Machine Operator

Agricultural products processing machine operators run machines that process and package raw and processed foods and drinks.

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

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

19%
19%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • 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
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating processing and packaging machines and equipment

METHODICAL

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

innovative

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Agricultural products processing machine operators may operate a variety of machines. The type of machines depends on the product, the methods used and the size of the business and plant.

In general, agricultural products processing machine operators:

  • Operate single- and multi-function processing machines
  • Observe gauges, printouts and monitors
  • Adjust machines and process variables such as cooking times and temperatures as needed
  • Do food-safety checks
  • Clean machinery before and after use
  • Maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems
  • Fill out forms to document line activity
  • Keep shift logs to track production data
  • Prepare products for distribution
  • Check product and machinery output quality

Depending on the operation, they may also:

  • Set up or adjust machines for specific processes
  • Package and label products for sale
  • Assemble packaged products into larger lot sizes for shipping
  • 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 processing machine operators run machines that clean, wash, sort, trim, peel and cut produce. They also may operate machines that process and package fruit and vegetable products.

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Working conditions vary. Much production line work is done indoors in warm, clean and well-ventilated conditions. Other work is performed in unheated packaging sheds, cold storage or freezers. Work in grain processing plants can be dusty and noisy. Work near cooking or sanitizing operations can be hot and humid. Some machine operators work beside each other in small spaces.

In plants that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, employees work in rotating shifts.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Agricultural products processing machine operators need:

  • Stamina
  • Physical co-ordination and manual dexterity
  • The ability to work steadily and swiftly
  • The ability to do routine tasks yet remain alert and flexible
  • The ability to understand written specifications and instructions
  • Mechanical aptitude

They should enjoy:

  • Operating and controlling equipment
  • Having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • Producing a finished or improved product for human or animal consumption
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

There are no standard educational requirements for work in a processing plant. Employers may require a high school diploma. For more complex tasks, they may require related post-secondary education.

Production line processing is often automated. Machine operators must be able to adapt to new technologies. They must follow safe work practices and be trained to safely and effectively use each piece of equipment.

Employers provide on-the-job training. This teaches workers how to operate and maintain machines and solve mechanical problems. The degree of skill needed to operate processing machines can vary, and equipment is often very expensive. Three months or more of on-the-job experience may be needed before a machine operator can work alone. In some situations, workers may be cross-trained on other machines.

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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pasteurizer operators are required to obtain a pasteurizer operator’s licence by successfully completing a mandatory 3.5-day licensing course. Licences must be renewed annually.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Agricultural products processing machine operators work in food and drink processing plants, such as:

  • Bakeries
  • Malting facilities
  • Breweries
  • Distilleries
  • Dairies
  • Flour mills
  • Fruit and vegetable processing plants
  • Meat plants
  • Sugar refineries
  • Seed plants
  • Feed mills

New employees usually start as general plant help. They may rotate through the plant to get exposure to its operations. Advancing from general plant help to skilled roles requires specific on-the-job training. Employees skilled in specific processes may advance to roles 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 [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the Manufacturing industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • 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.

In Alberta, the J171: Process Control and Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Salaries vary considerably depending on the type of equipment, 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
Starting
Overall
Top
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
Manufacturing
Agriculture
ALL INDUSTRIES
Wholesale Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

53%
53%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

19%
19%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

8%
8%

Vacancy Rate

1%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website: www.agric.gov.ab.ca

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website: www.inspection.gc.ca

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 31, 2019. 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.

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