Salary Insights for Employees in the Food and Beverage Industry

Candidates have newfound bargaining power because demand for the right skills is already high and still growing. 

The savviest job applicants know their value and are more prepared to negotiate for higher pay offers than before the pandemic, particularly with unemployment rates at historic lows and staffing shortages across the food and beverage industry. 

Candidates know this and place a high value on pay, amid fast-rising inflation. More than half (59%) of U.S. Progressive candidates said that salary and/or wage was the most important consideration when looking for a new role, according to SThree's How the STEM World Works Survey.17 

The following roles - which range from mainstream to niche - show that while salaries are already high for key people, demand for their skills is predicted to climb, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and professional networking site, LinkedIn. This puts them in the driver's seat in salary or wage negotiations.

Construction Managers

$98,890 median annual salary

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. Their median salary is $98,890. Employment of construction managers is expected to go up by 11% between 2020 and 2030 – much faster than the average for all jobs in the economy.18 This means competition for these experts will be tough.

Electrical Engineers

$101,780 median annual salary

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment. The current median wage for these experts is $101,780 annually. Employment will grow by around 7% in the coming years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Some 22,400 job openings are predicted to emerge each year in the next decade.19 

Mechanical Engineers

$95,300 median annual salary

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices. Their median annual wage is currently $95,300 and employment is projected to grow by around 7% between 2020 and 2030.20 There will be roughly 20,200 roles for these people to apply for each year, with many of the jobs opening because of older workers exiting the labor force through retirement.

Process Engineers

$93,500 median annual salary

Process engineers design and develop new processes and technologies needed for food and beverage products, focusing on everything from manufacturing and modifications to packaging. Their median pay is around $93,500.21 Roughly 16% of these roles are filled by women. Organizations that can improve gender diversity will help tackle worker shortages, while diversity of all kinds is good for boosting creativity and relevance.

Controls Engineers

$86,400 median annual salary

Controls engineers design and develop electrical and automation systems for manufacturing operations. The median annual salary is currently around $86,400. It is another heavily male-dominated role – around 90% of the workforce are men.22 In the U.S. there are more than 25,000 controls engineers.

Food Scientists

$74,160 median annual salary

Food scientists are educated in nutrition, biology, and chemistry. They apply this knowledge to research and create or improve food and processes in order to make products that are safe to consume. Their median annual pay is currently around $74,160 and this may rise as employment is projected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030.23 Around 3,200 job openings are expected each year.

Project Managers

$88,700 median annual salary

Project managers’ responsibilities include the planning, procurement and execution of a project. In manufacturing, this means everything from overseeing the development of products to quality control. Nationally, the median annual pay is around $88,700 for project managers involved in engineering and related services. Gender diversity is more balanced for this role – around 39% of project managers are women and 61% are men.24 

Packaging Engineers

$85,900 median annual salary

Packaging engineers design, develop and produce containers for products, focusing on keeping food and beverages safe for transport, as well as eye-catching for consumers and cost effective in the manufacturing process. Their median annual pay is around $85,900, with men dominating these roles and making up roughly
73% of the workforce.25 

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About Progressive Recruitment

Progressive supports businesses across the power and utilities, renewable energy, manufacturing, and oil and gas sectors by providing comprehensive staffing solutions that add value. We specialize in talent across engineering, construction, and project management. We secured 1,100 placements across contract and permanent hires in 2021. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Progressive has grown market share and generated over $75m in revenue in 2021.

Progressive is part of SThree, the only global pure-play STEM specialist recruitment company. For seven years in a row, Progressive has made the Staffing Industry Analysts' (SIA) list of the largest engineering staffing firms in the U.S. - ranking number 13 in the most recently published list.