Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for cheesemaker are good for the next few years. Wages look set to remain high, and there will be a slight increase in employment. It can however be challenging for inexperienced people to get started in the industry.

How to become a cheesemaker

What they do

Cheesemakers work to produce cheese in cheese processing plants. They mix ingredients, monitor the maturing process and test that the cheese is of the required quality.

their tasks may include:

  • weighing, measuring, mixing, dissolving and boiling ingredients
  • adding materials, such as spices and preservatives, to food and beverages
  • operating heating, chilling, freezing, pasteurising, carbonating, sulphuring and desulphuring plant
  • monitoring product quality before packaging by inspecting, taking samples and adjusting treatment conditions when necessary
  • operating machines to peel, core, slice, dice, pit and juice fruit and vegetables
  • cleaning equipment, pumps, hoses, storage tanks, vessels and floors, and maintaining infestation control programs
  • regulating speed of conveyors and crusher rollers, and adjusting tension of rollers to ensure total extraction of juice from sugar cane
  • moving products from production lines into storage and shipping areas
  • packaging and bottling products.


There is no entry requirement to work as a cheesemaker, but most employers prefer to hire people with qualifications or previous experience.

One way to get a qualification is to complete an apprenticeship. This can lead to a New Zealand Certificate in Dairy Processing (Level 3, 4 or 5). There are several different specialised certificates available in cheese making and processed cheese.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Cost of study

On the job training

*if completed as an employer-funded apprenticeship there may be no fees for the apprentice

The least expensive way to train as a cheesemaker is to become an apprentice and learn on the job. That way, you can earn while gaining a qualification.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for the cheese making industry is the Primary ITO. It arranges apprenticeship training nationwide.

Primary ITO, dairy processing:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Level 5 or 6 qualification in the broader category ‘Process & Resources Engineering’ has varied between 20 and 45 over the last years. This shows that comparatively few cheesemakers get qualified at this level each year.

Qualification completions chart


Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The annual income for cheesemaker is estimated to be around $69,400. Inexperienced cheesemaker and new apprentices are likely to earn considerably less. Qualified cheesemaker are likely to earn more than those without a certificate.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Cheesemakers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
2,034 1,959 1,990 2,060
  -0.5% 0.2% 0.6%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the wider category “Food Process Workers”.

The number of dairy products makers in employment decreased slightly from 2006 to 2013. However, the industry is projected to grow steadily over the next few years. Note that these numbers also include other occupations such as people making butter or yoghurt.

Employment chart


Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Cheesemakers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Cheese making vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Cheesemakers can become supervisors or get responsibility for parts of the production process. Workers with relevant certificates are more likely to get more responsibility. Cheesemakers may also go on to establish their own businesses.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry level cheesemakers.

  • Brewer
  • Dairy Products Maker
  • Food and Beverage Factory Worker
  • Food Technologist
  • Process Worker

Other information


More information on cheesemaker is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of cheesemaker has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for their purpose of this report:

831114 – Dairy Products Maker