Food and Drink School Leaver Jobs - Careers Guide

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Got a chocolate bar or bag of crisps in your backpack? Take it out for a second and have a look. Every bit of it has been put together by professionals in the food and drink industry, from creating the recipe, seasonings, size and shape to designing the packaging and maintaining the machines that produce the finished product.

There are a lot more career options in the food and drink industry than you might think. Whether you're interested in the science side that creates the magic, delicious food we all love, the procurement side that obtains the materials needed at the best possible costs, the food manufacturing side that maintains machines and production lines, the design side that makes sure it looks appealing from casing to crumb, or the sales and marketing side that promotes the product to the rest of the country, you can use your skills to their best advantage.

Because you're producing things people are going to eat and drink, the products need to be perfect. Mistakes can be very dangerous for all concerned, so it's important that you follow the rules and regulations attached to your role, and notice when there's an error. You may have regular shifts you need to work, but you'll likely be paid overtime if you need to work longer hours.

What will I earn? TOP ^

Trainees on a food production line or similar earn around £12,000, with supervisors earning around £20,000. A food safety offer can earn from £25,000-£30,000. Food scientists can start off earning over £20,000, and that salary can double as they gain experience.

Where can I work? TOP ^

This is a good industry to work in if you're not sure what kinds of qualifications you want to get. There's something for all ages, and all abilities from school leavers after GCSEs to sixth form leavers after A Levels – you'll progress through continued training, but it's up to you how you want to get that training.

School leavers typically go into roles in food manufacturing, food safety and product development. You could start out as an apprentice learning technical skills on the job, before moving into new areas as you progress and get further qualifications.

What skills will I need in food and drink? TOP ^

Most jobs in this industry require good teamwork and management skills, which will help you progress to higher roles. It’s also important to show a lot of motivation and self-discipline, particularly if you need to get further certificates and qualifications. Some jobs, such as becoming a food scientist, will require you to get a university degree.

Some of the skills that are useful for a career in food and drink include:

What entry level food and drink jobs can I do? TOP ^

Food and drink is a wide ranging industry with plenty of job options for students and school leavers. Although many school leavers think of waiters and bar staff when they think of the food and drink industry, there are plenty more entry roles than just in catering.
Some of the entry level jobs you can take in the food and drink industry include:

  • Food production assistant
  • Trainee food safety officer
  • Taste tester
  • Brewer
Browse all Food and Drink jobs for this guide