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Become a Butcher: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn the steps toward becoming a butcher. Research the education and various career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a butcher.

Should I Become a Butcher?

Butchers or meat cutters process and cut meat in processing plants or for customers in grocery stores and butcher shops. In addition to cutting, grinding, weighing and wrapping meats, butchers must also adhere to all health regulations, sharpen knives, prepare meats for display and maintain inventory. Butchers must use caution when using sharp instruments and often work standing for prolonged periods of time. Self-employment opportunities are available in this field, as well as full-time opportunities working indoors.

While prospective butchers receive on-the-job training, they can also enroll in a certificate program to prepare for employment.

Career Requirements

Education Required High school diploma
Experience Experience as a meat cutter may be necessary
Key Skills Prospective butchers must have strong hand-eye coordination and the ability to lift 40 pounds. Additional physical skills include the ability to stand for long periods of time and work in varying temperatures.
Salary (2014) $28,660 (Median salary for all butchers and meat cutters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Monster.com (July 2012).

Step 1: Consider a Certificate

While a high school diploma is the minimum requirement to become a butcher, individuals may want to consider pursuing a certificate related to meat processing or meat science. Students have an opportunity to take courses in meat evaluation, meat animal processing, meat selection and meat industry technology. This is an opportunity for students to learn about slaughtering techniques, inspection, breeding, nutrition, hormones and cutting.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. While pursuing a certificate, an internship can provide you with an opportunity to work and learn under a professional butcher. This supervised experience could take place at a local grocery store or butchery shop and prepares you for professional work.

Step 2: Gain Employment as a Meat Cutter

Before working as a butcher, prospective employers want applicants to have experience. One way to gain experience is to obtain a job as a meat cutter. Meat cutters receive on-the-job training, and their work is generally supervised by butchers. Meat cutters also must have strong customer service skills to ensure individuals receive the proper cut of meat.

Success Tip:

  • Remain in excellent physical shape. Due to the physical nature of the job, butchers must be in good condition. Dexterity, strength, stamina and hand-eye coordination are all of great importance.

Step 3: Pursue an Associate's Degree

Some butchers may want to open up their own shop; completing an associate's degree can provide them with additional knowledge and skills in the field. In addition to learning about meat and participating in hands-on courses, students may have the opportunity to learn about business and entrepreneurship.

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