Dairy Products Maker
Kaiwhakamahi Pūrere Hua Miraka
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Dairy products makers operate machines to produce dairy products such as cheese, butter, yoghurt and milk powder.
Dairy products makers starting out usually earn
$40K-$50K per year
Senior dairy products makers usually earn
$60K-$70K per year
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Industry sources indicate that dairy products makers earn the following:
- Assistant dairy products makers earn between $40,000 and $50,000 a year.
- Experienced dairy products makers earn between $50,000 and $60,000.
- Senior dairy products makers earn between $60,000 and $70,000.
What you will do
Dairy products makers may do some or all of the following:
- mix and cook dairy product ingredients
- mould or shape the dairy product
- monitor how the product matures over time
- take samples of the dairy product
- test dairy product samples
- operate machinery (to make and package dairy products)
- clean and sterilise machinery.
Skills and knowledge
Dairy products makers need to have knowledge of:
- the ingredients for, and types of dairy products they are making
- laboratory practices, production methods, and quality control
- health and safety regulations
- how to use and care for equipment
- milk chemistry and microbiology.
Dairy products makers:
- work regular business hours or do shift work, which may include nights, early mornings and weekends
- may have an off-season (for example, from May to July for cheesemakers)during which they take holidays or do maintenance
- usually work in dairy processing plants
- may work in hot, cold, wet or noisy conditions.
What's the job really like?
Carl Taylor - Dairy Products Maker
For Carl Taylor, being a dairy products maker is all about being prepared. "Planning is a big part of the job. I work as part of a team and my role is at the start. I get the milk from the farm while everyone else in the plant is working with the milk I provide them. If I haven't planned ahead, then I get jammed up with milk."
Opportunity to work in different parts of the factory
While the volume of milk processed can be a challenge, Carl enjoys working in the dairy industry, having grown up on a farm in the Waikato. "When I first started here I was working on the milk dryers, then I moved into my current role, separating the milk and casein."
Carl likes what he does because it's busy, and though he often does the same job every day, there is still a lot of variation in the role. "I have to cook faster or slower to match what needs to be done. And because we are a small company I might walk in the door and the dryer operator is sick so I'll have to go over to his site and run that."
There's great training available
Carl's advice is: "Push yourself to get training, and once you're in the industry push to be trained in more specialised areas. It's a rewarding and well paid job, and there are career paths into management or technical roles."
- Good on-the-job training.
- Opportunity to earn good money.
- Working in a factory environment, which can be noisy.
- The work can be repetitive.
There are no specific requirements to become a dairy products maker as skills are gained on the job and through in-house training courses. However, some employers may prefer you to have a Diploma in Dairy Technology.
Dairy products makers may study towards the Diploma in Dairy Technology and the Graduate Diploma in Dairy Science and Technology while working.
Courses are also run through the New Zealand Industry Training Organisation.
Courses in engineering, food hygiene and food technology, or a diploma in science are useful for dairy products makers.
- New Zealand Industry Training Organisation website - information on meat processing national certificates
At least four years of secondary education is preferred. Useful subjects include chemistry, English and maths.
Dairy products makers need to be:
- patient and practical
- efficient and organised
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to work well in a team or alone
- able to follow instructions
- able to keep accurate records.
You need to be very well organised and prepared in advance. Other people rely on what you're doing and have timing requirements. So it can be a real juggling act.
Carl Taylor - Dairy Products Maker
Useful experience for dairy products makers includes:
- manufacturing work
- work on a dairy farm
- laboratory work
- any work involving food handling and hygiene.
Dairy products makers need to be reasonably fit, as they spend most of the day on their feet and may be required to lift heavy objects.
Find out more about training
- NZ Industry Training Organisation
- (07) 858 4821 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzito.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of dairy products makers has remained relatively stable since 2010 with about 2,100 people in the role. However, turnover and the size of the industry mean that opportunities are good.
The New Zealand Industry Training Organisation (NZITO) estimates there are about 500 job vacancies a year for dairy products makers.
Growing exports and expansion overseas provide good opportunities for dairy products makers
Dairy products are New Zealand's largest export earner. The growth of new export companies and local market boutique companies means positions come up regularly.
Fonterra (the largest producer of dairy products) is also expanding operations overseas, which provides opportunities for dairy products makers to work in Australia, Europe, China, Asia, USA and Latin America.
Fonterra the main employer of dairy products makers
Most dairy products makers work for Fonterra, which has 26 processing centres in New Zealand. Other employers of dairy products makers include:
- Kapiti Fine Foods
- Goodman Fielder
- Open Country
- Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company
- Westland Co-operative Dairy Company.
Some dairy products makers work at smaller, boutique cheese factories, which sell products mainly to niche markets.
- Market New Zealand, 'Dairy Industry in New Zealand', September 2007, (www.marketnz.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data', (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Progression and specialisations
Dairy products makers may specialise in making butter, cheese, milk or yoghurt.
They may also move into supervisory or management roles, or set up their own businesses.
Last updated 21 April 2016