How to become a Packaging Operative

packaging operative careers

What does a Packaging Operative do?

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.

What's the working environment like working as a Packaging Operative?

Operatives usually work 37 to 40 hours a week on a shift system, often including weekends. Overtime is common during busy times. Part-time positions are often available.

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.

What does it take to become a Packaging Operative?

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

  • be strong and physically fit
  • 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 as well 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.

Packaging Operative Career Opportunities

The food and drink industry is the United Kingdom’s 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 experience it is possible to be promoted to supervisory and even managerial grades, as recruitment for these posts is often internal.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Packaging Operative that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Sea Fish Industry Authority
Training and Standards
Seafish House
St Andrew’s Dock

Facts and Stats:

  • 4,076,000 people work in manufacturing in the UK, making it the nation''s top occupation
  • Brazil is the top coffee-producing country in the world, producing 1,653,020 tonnes a year
  • Chicago has more chocolate manufacturers within a small radius than any other place in the world

Courses to help you become a Packaging Operative