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Packaging Operative Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Packaging Operative. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Packaging Operative
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Packaging Operative Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Packaging operatives work on the machines and production lines that put finished food and drink products such as biscuits, crisps, soup, soft drinks and chocolate bars into containers, cans or packets. These may then be packed into larger boxes or crates. Job titles vary between companies, with some operatives being referred to as machine technicians, and others known as packers if the finished product is packed by hand.

The manufacture of food products is a highly mechanised process. Consequently, the job is likely to consist of adjusting the settings of machines to handle the change from one type of product, or shape and size of container, to another. Packaging operatives are also trained to identify errors and correct the machines as soon as a fault develops.

In large factories packaging operatives ensure that the machines are loaded with supplies and run smoothly. They remove any damaged goods and clean the machines ready for each new batch.

Hours and Environment:

Operatives work a 37- to 40-hour week, including shifts, weekend work and overtime (which may be necessary at busy times). Full-time workers rotate around certain shift patterns. Part-time work is also common.

Factories can be hot or cold, depending on the product being made. Protective clothing is worn at all times and operatives must follow health and safety rules. There can be a lot of lifting, carrying and loading in this job.

Skills and Interests:

To be a packaging operative in the food and drink industry, you should:

  • be physically fit with good manual dexterity
  • be observant, with the ability to spot faults
  • have patience to carry out repetitive tasks
  • be able to work quickly to meet production targets
  • be able to work on your own or as part of a team
  • be able to follow strict health and safety guidelines and quality procedures
  • have good personal hygiene
  • be prepared to work in a noisy, sometimes odorous environment.


You do not need any formal academic qualifications, although it helps to have GCSEs/S grades, or a relevant NVQ/SVQ.

Previous experience of work in manufacturing would be useful.


Many companies run their own training schemes. As a trainee packaging operative, your induction will involve on-the-job training. You will cover manufacturing processes and machine safety.

The training will usually lead to NVQ/SVQ levels 1, 2 and 3 in Food and Drink Manufacturing Operations.

You will also be trained in health and safety procedures. Food and drink manufacturers send their staff on food hygiene courses run by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene, and the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland. These are normally at local training centres or colleges. Many companies have their own training courses in health and safety, and hygiene.

Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


The food and drink industry is the United Kingdoms largest manufacturing sector, employing over half a million people. Some factories are large, employing over 500 staff, while others are small, family-run companies.

Openings for school-leavers and experienced adult workers are good, though some work may be seasonal.

With some experience it is possible to be promoted to supervisory and even managerial grades.

Annual Income:

The annual income section is intended as a guideline only.

A packaging operative can expect to earn at least £6,156.
With experience they could earn around £10,500 to £12,000.
Some packaging operatives can earn more than £23,000, and supervisors can earn up to £25,000.

Further information:

(Food and Drink Sector Skills Council)
1 Green St
Tel: 020 7355 0830

Sea Fish Industry Authority
Training and Standards
Seafish House
St Andrew√Ę€™s Dock

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Packaging Operative Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Packaging Operative job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Packaging Operative Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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