Food Processing Technician

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10,001 to 25,000
Salary Range
Median weekly earnings: $921 to $1050 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Food processing technicians are part of the behind-the-scene teams producing new or improved food products.

There are approximately 3,600 food processing technicians working in South Australia. Employment is mostly full-time with the majority working in the Manufacturing industry. Most persons in this occupation are males with the main age group between 30-40 years.
  • Food processing technicians assist food technologists in the development, processing and packaging of food products. They also establish and maintain food quality control standards for food manufacturers such and for the agricultural, food retail and food service catering industries.

  • Currently of those employed in the industry 17% have Certificate III or IV and 67% have no post school qualifications. While such a large percentage don't have any formal qualifications it is suggested that further education be undertaken to remain as competitive in the industry as possible.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Food Processing and Diploma of Food Science and Technology. Pathways include the Certificate II in Food Processing, Certificate III Program in Food Processing (Artisan Cheese) and Certificate IV in Food Processing.

    Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as Affinage and Food Safety for Dairy Foods Production. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

  • A creative flair would also be an asset when developing the documented systems and procedures under the guidance of a quality assurance manager. From a technician's position it is possible to progress to a supervisory position, or to work as a private consultant in this area. Currently, this is a small occupation in terms of workforce that still experiences low turnover.

  • Food processing technicians can choose to work in one of several areas. They may work with specific foods such as dairy or meat products, undertaking routine analytical testing of raw materials and finished products under controlled conditions. Routine testing includes microbiological tests (used to ensure food is safe to consume) and chemical testing (used to gauge the chemical composition, or additives in food).

    Other food processing technicians may choose to work in a particular area of food production such as research and development, quality control, food laboratory analysis or production supervision. What's New! In research and development, food processing technicians help to develop new processing methods and improve current products or create new ones. They repeatedly test and monitor new foods for their microbial content, nutritional value and flavour and appearance before arriving at the final product. Before testing commences, technicians set up a testing station and decide on the most effective testing methods. A wet, analytical testing method installed with an infra-red detector is commonly used to test new ice-cream products for instance. The introduction of automated testing equipment continues to enhance the types of tests carried out in food processing. According to one particular Technical Services Manager, this will continue to lead to shorter turnaround times when producing test results and greater control and efficiency by technicians.

  • If you have a healthy interest in science, particularly in regard to the chemical and microbiological composition of food and can see yourself working in a food lab-based environment, then you're heading in the right direction by considering this occupation. On a technical level, you will need sharp observational skills, have the ability to interpret and analyse test results and be able to offer suggestions about how processes could be improved. Food processing technicians need to pay attention to detail and adopt a systematic approach to their work tasks as testing relies on following a step-by-step process.

  • ''We want to be able to test things effectively and allow time for modifications while still maintaining a budget.'' Technicians working in production supervision and quality control must ensure that hygienic conditions and procedures are followed during food processing and packaging. The procedures include storing raw ingredients under correct conditions and making sure that the raw ingredients and the processed food products meet government and company quality standards. Food processing technicians forward their findings to relevant departments and companies to help ensure their compliance with food, health and safety standards. They also carry out commercial testing for external clients. It is also part of a technician's role to provide technical advice and assistance to other food technicians and operational units within the organisation where they work.

    Food processing technicians are laboratory based and work as part of a team. The type of equipment they use includes your everyday microwave, moisture ovens and hygiene monitoring equipment. Its up to these technicians to maintain the laboratory and the testing equipment used by them.

    For further information, contact:

    Agri-Food Skills Australia
    PO Box 5450, Kingston, ACT 2604
    Ph: (02) 6163 7200
    Fax: (02) 6162 0610
    Internet Address:

    The Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc (National Office)
    PO Box 6436 Alexandria NSW 2015
    Ph: (02) 8399 3996 or 1800 816 148 (FREECALL)
    Fax: (02) 8399 3997
    Internet Address:

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online