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.

Do I Want to Be a Butcher?

Butchers or meat cutters process and cut meat in processing plants or for customers in grocery stores and butcher shops. Types and cuts of meats may include beef, poultry, lamb, pork, veal, sausage, chops, roasts and steaks. 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.

Job Requirements

While prospective butchers must receive on-the-job training, they can also enroll in a certificate program to prepare for employment. The table below includes the requirements necessary to become a butcher.

Common Requirements
Degree Level 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.**

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*; (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 will 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 and hormones and cutting.

Success Tips!

Participate in an internship. While pursuing a certificate, an internship will 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 prepare 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-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.

Step 3: Pursue an Associate's Degree

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

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