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

Agricultural Products Processing Machine Operator

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

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

  • 9461.2: Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing

2006 NOC-S

  • J171: Process Control and Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing

2011 NOC

  • 9461: Process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing

2016 NOC

  • 9461: Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing

2021 NOC

  • 94140: Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing
Duties
Updated Mar 17, 2023

Agricultural products processing machine operators run a variety of machines to maintain the quality and safety of foods and prepare them for long-term storage. The type of machines depends on the product, the methods used, the plant or animal part being processed, and the size of the business.

In general, operators of agricultural products processing machines:

  • Operate single- and multi-function processing machines
  • Observe gauges, printouts, and monitors
  • Adjust machines and change variables such as cooking times and temperatures as needed
  • Do food-safety checks
  • Clean and sanitize machinery before and after use
  • Maintain equipment to ensure it performs efficiently, and troubleshoot problems
  • Order packaging materials, and other products such as lubricants and replacement parts to maintain the machine
  • Fill out records and forms to document line activity and show compliance with food regulations and business operational requirements
  • Plan and maintain shift logs to track production data
  • Prepare processed and packaged products for distribution
  • Check product and machinery output to ensure a high-quality standard

Depending on the operation, they may also:

  • Set up or adjust machines for different processes
  • Package and label products for sale
  • Assemble packaged products into larger lot sizes for shipping
  • Record production information and date stamp production to comply with consumer legislation
  • Serve customers
  • Load and unload transport trucks

Dairy plant machine operators run machines that pasteurize milk. They also 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 may operate machines that further 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 malt. They also process peas, beans, chickpeas, and mustard.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 17, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Working conditions vary depending upon time of year and whether the food product is seasonal. Much production line work is done indoors in warm, clean, well-lit, well-ventilated conditions. Depending on the process, strict hygiene and cleanliness standards may be essential. Other work is performed in unheated packaging sheds, cold storage rooms, 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 often work in rotating shifts.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing

2006 NOC: 9461.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 17, 2023

Agricultural products processing machine operators need:

  • Stamina
  • Physical coordination 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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing

2016 NOC: 9461

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 90 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 18, 2022 and May 27, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Clean machines and immediate work areas
Tasks: Check products for defects and to ensure conformance to company standards
Tasks: Operate machinery to process and bag, box or otherwise package food products
Tasks: Set up and adjust processing and packaging machines
Tasks: Perform corrective machine adjustments
Construction Specialization: Team player
Tasks: Maintain shift log of production and other data
Tasks: Record production information
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2023
  • Minimum Education Varies

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. Additional training is most often required for Hazard Analysis of Critical Control (HACCP), which is used to maintain a high degree of safety in food processing.

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

Employers must 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. The equipment is often very expensive. A machine operator may need 3 months or more of on-the-job experience before being allowed to work alone. Some workers may be cross-trained on more than 1 machine.

Most food-processing machine operators must update their food safety, good manufacturing practice (GMP), and worker safety training annually.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

Pasteurizer operators must obtain a pasteurizer operator’s licence by successfully completing a mandatory 3.5-day licensing course. They must renew this licence annually.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 17, 2023

Operators of agricultural product processing machines 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 most often start as general plant help. They may rotate through the plant to learn about each of its operations. Advancing from general plant help to skilled roles requires on-the-job training. Employees skilled in specific processes may advance to roles such as lead hand or shift supervisor.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 9461: Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing occupational group, 78.3% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 9461: Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 113 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 17, 2023

Salaries vary depending on the type of equipment, the size and nature of the plant, the level of skill required, and the location within the province.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Process control and machine operators, food and beverage processing

2016 NOC: 9461
Average Wage
$20.73
Per Hour
Average Salary
$44,185.00
Per Year
Average Hours
41.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 9461 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $29.63 $17.69 $16.20
Overall $17.00 $33.57 $20.73 $20.00
Top $20.45 $35.78 $26.33 $26.00

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
28%
28%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
36%
36%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
7%
7%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 17, 2023

Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation website: www.alberta.ca/agriculture-and-irrigation.aspx

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 17, 2023. 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?