Author: Jackie Stapleton
I had a student reach out to me on LinkedIn recently with the question:
As long as I would like to change my career to the food safety field, could you help me and tell me what kind of courses are going to help me to become a quality assurance inspector in the food industry?
Our SME and content developer for our Food Safety Courses was able to respond with:
First off, a HACCP course is essential. It is probably the first step of broad learning to get under your belt - if moving into the food assurance space.
Then I guess it depends if you would like to be a regulator (external - auditor) or work as a QA in a production company (internal)?
Regardless of which direction you would like to go, you would benefit from a lead food safety auditor course. As even internal QAs need to understand how to audit.
There is a huge range of learnings that may be required depending on the field of food safety you are is looking to get into. It is hard to advise on any other courses without firstly deciding on the direction.
To become an internal QA, it's a matter of getting a job with a food production company and gaining experience. Having HACCP and a lead auditors’ course would go a long way to getting an assistant QA job. You would learn a lot and get a QA manager job down the track. There is a whole range of companies and the risks are so varied. Therefore, the knowledge requirements are varied also - from low risk to high risk. Working as a QA in a high-risk food company would be a great way to learn on the ground. You can always transition to an external auditor from here.
Again, it depends what kind of auditing/assurance role you are after.
There is the certification body auditor, third party auditors that audit against a particular standard - ISO, BRC etc in order to grant certification to a food business (or provide assurance for an existing one). Usually employed by a Certification body. It would be hard to get into this role without a reasonable amount of experience though. They wouldn’t usually hire someone based on education/certification alone. Getting specific accreditations such as ISO, BRC, FSSC would be required and beneficial for this career path, although I wouldn't recommend jumping ahead with all of this right away. You can always get these pretty quickly once you're in the industry, depending on what the specific job requires.
You may need to speak with Exemplar global on how to get experience required to become a registered auditor for a certification body.
Regulatory auditors audit for an agency/gov't against a legislation. Again, probably hard to get into this field without any audit experience. Specific food industry regulators (such as Safe food Qld, NSW food authority, Dept of Agriculture etc) look favourably on people with food science degrees, so there are a lot of scientists that get jobs in these industries. You are more likely to get hired based on education alone (no working experience as an auditor or in the food industry) if you have a food science degree or similar. These agencies will provide continued training as required too so a good place to gain formal training.
If working in a high-risk food industry further courses will be required such as a microbiology course, and other specialised courses - cook-chill, retorting, canning, pasteurisation etc.
Having some microbiology is probably also beneficial. You can do these as short courses at some institutes.
In summary, you can see what training you require initially and even ongoing will differ dependent on the direction and field you are looking at working in.
A great start is always a Lead Auditor and HACCP course – take a look at what we can offer here.