Food packaging operative

Manufacturing and production

Career outlook for food packaging operative

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would help to prepare food and drink for sale in the shops by keeping production lines running smoothly.

You’d work on the machines and production lines that put finished food and drink products into containers, cans or packets.

You could be packaging:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Pre-cooked meals
  • Soft drinks
  • Confectionary

You’d work quickly and accurately to meet production targets. You’d need to have good observational skills and patience to do repetitive tasks.

You would:

  • Check the quality of products for quality and remove defective items
  • Keep machines supplied with packaging materials and labels
  • Report machine faults to shift supervisors and maintenance staff
  • Make minor adjustments to machine settings to changes from one product or container to another
  • Keep the machines and production areas clean
  • Put the products into boxes or crates to be sent to shops and supermarkets

You might also move the packaged items around the warehouse using pallet trollies or a forklift truck.

It’s important to follow strict health and safety guidelines, and have good standards of personal hygiene.

Working conditions


You would typically work 37 to 40 hours a week on a shift system, often including evenings and weekends. Overtime is common during busy times. Part-time work is usually available.


Factories are usually noisy and can be hot or cool, depending on the product being packed. You would wear protective clothing.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Reading
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management
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There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role.

Helpful to have

Experience of working on a production line.

Qualifications that show understanding of the manufacturing industry and health and saftey standards such as Skills for Work Food and Drink (SCQF level 5) or a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Food and Drink Operations (SVQ level 2/3).

A forklift licence may also be advantageous.