What Is a Process Worker? (Plus How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 August 2021

Pursuing a career in production may provide you with the opportunity to build and assemble a variety of products. These careers usually have few requirements for entry-level positions but may allow you to develop important skills. It's important to understand what being a process or production worker entails before pursuing this career. In this article, we discuss what is a process worker, how to become one and define what a food process worker is and does.

What is a process worker?

A process worker is a professional who completes routine tasks as part of a production line. They often work in warehouse, manufacturing and industrial settings, as well as a variety of specialised industries. They follow safety guidelines and ensure machines work properly so they can produce enough items before their deadlines. Process workers generally carry out responsibilities including:

  • Communicating production problems to supervisors

  • Coordinating equipment maintenance and repair

  • Following production schedules and instructions

  • Maintaining equipment

  • Maintaining product inventory

  • Operating a variety of devices and equipment

  • Packing and, when necessary, repacking items

  • Preparing and maintaining records and reports about production

  • Preparing and processing orders for delivery

  • Promoting workplace safety

  • Resolving production quality issues

What is a food process worker?

A food process worker is a specialised process worker. They prepare and preserve a variety of food items. They're responsible for counting and managing a large inventory of various baked, canned, dried, frozen and pasteurised products.

Food process workers also typically work in warehouses or factories. The type of facility they work in, though, may depend on the specific type of food they produce. However, their primary responsibility is to pass food down conveyor belts through various stages of production, such as mixing, cooking, inspecting and packaging. Some food process workers pursue further specialities, such as:

  • Brewery worker

  • Dairy process worker

  • Fruit and vegetable process worker

  • Margarine and edible oils process worker

  • Pet food processing machine operator

  • Pharmaceuticals production machine operator

  • Poultry processor

  • Soft drink and syrup making machine operator

  • Tea and coffee processing machine operator

What does a food process worker do?

Food process workers execute a variety of tasks based on the specific products they make. Some examples of duties for these professionals may include:

  • Add preservatives, spices or other ingredients or materials to food

  • Adjust processes and treatment conditions for quality purposes

  • Adjust the conveyor belt's momentum as needed

  • Bottle and package products

  • Check and operate food processing-specific equipment

  • Clean equipment, floors, storage tanks and other production areas

  • Collect samples to check product quality for dispatch

  • Coordinate weighing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Ensure machines are clean and organised

  • Ensure production lines have the required raw components and materials

  • Follow strict safety and cleanliness guidelines

  • Handle slaughtered or live poultry

  • Inspect cartons of fruits and vegetables upon delivery

  • Maintain safety and infestation control programmes

  • Monitor product quality through inspections and sample collection

  • Operate conveyor belts and processing plant equipment

  • Prepare live or slaughtered poultry for cooking or processing

  • Prepare, sort and machine feed fruits and vegetables

  • Receive, inspect and properly store raw ingredients and materials

  • Report production problems to supervisors and engineers

  • Sterilise production areas and equipment

  • Transport products from production areas to storage and shipping areas

  • Watch for production issues and stop devices accordingly

  • Weigh, measure, combine, mix and process ingredients

How much does a process worker earn?

The national average salary for a process worker is $26.08 per hour. These figures may vary depending on a process worker's level of experience and geographic location. Additionally, salaries can depend on the specific industry.

Food process work environment

Food process employees generally work in factories or warehouses. They may work long hours outside of traditional business hours. The specific conditions of their work environment may vary based on the processes they execute. For example, they may work in a cold environment if they make ice cream, or they may work in a dusty or noisy environment if they work with grain storage and conservation.

Related: What Is Shift Work?

How to become a process worker

Consider following these steps if you are interested in becoming a process worker:

1. Finish school

Becoming a process worker generally doesn't require earning a formal education. However, some factories or warehouses may require you to complete at least year 10 before you begin working. Requirements may also vary by state or territory.

2. Determine an industry

Determine which industry you want to work in as a process worker. Think about the type of products you would enjoy making. Some common industries to consider include:

  • Automotive

  • Construction

  • Food

  • Transport and logistics

3. Consider a traineeship

Consider pursuing a traineeship or an apprenticeship in your desired industry. This may allow you to more easily find an entry-level position that supports your ability to build your skills. Explore opportunities available through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, and look for a local provider in your region.

Related: Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

4. Seek entry-level positions

You can also seek entry-level positions to help you develop your skills. Most entry-level process worker positions do not require formal qualifications. However, previous experience with manufacturing or processing may help distinguish you from other candidates.

5. Carry out additional training

As you continue in your career, consider pursuing additional training opportunities. Explore on-the-job training courses or earning vocational qualifications, such as a forklift licence or national police clearance. Additional training may help qualify you for promotions, such as becoming a supervisor.

Key skills of a process worker

Becoming a process worker requires developing a combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills, or technical skills, are the skills specifically related to working as a process worker, and it's possible to learn these skills through training. Soft skills, are related to your personality and natural abilities that you demonstrate through your work ethic, habits and interactions with others. Some important skills for process workers to develop include:

Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills refer to your ability to collaborate and work with others successfully. Process workers need excellent teamwork skills so they can work with others on their production line to achieve their goals. However, it's also important for them to be able to work independently without direct supervision.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Attention to detail

Attention to detail relates to the ability to assess items for defects or complete tasks with precision. This is important because process workers need to perform their personal tasks on the production line with perfect accuracy. Strong attention to detail may help them perform repetitive tasks without compromising the quality of the products.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills include evaluating situations to determine the cause of problems and developing effective solutions for the issues. This is an essential skill for process workers as they're often responsible for maintaining equipment and resolving any issues with production lines. Excellent problem-solving skills enable these professionals to identify problems quickly to ensure efficiency and prevent further complications.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Workplace safety

Workplace safety skills refer to your understanding of and commitment to creating and maintaining a safe work environment. Process workers are responsible for ensuring their work area is clean and sanitised. It's important for them to understand and follow safety guidelines, especially when handling dangerous materials or operating heavy machinery.

Active listening

Active listening includes successfully listening to speakers and understanding their messages. This requires the ability to process and comprehend information thoroughly. Excellent active listening skills help ensure process workers can understand and follow directions provided by their supervisors.

Read more: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

Ability to work under pressure

The ability to work under pressure relates to your ability to work in stressful environments without compromising the integrity of your work. Process workers often work in face-paced environments, and they may work with dangerous machinery. It's essential for them to be comfortable working in these conditions and performing cyclical tasks.

Hand-eye coordination

Hand-eye coordination is a cognitive skill that involves using your eyes and hands simultaneously. Excellent hand-eye coordination abilities allow you to process visual inputs quickly to guide reaching, grasping and other hand movements. This is important for food process emplyees to complete tasks on production lines quickly.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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