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Butcher School, Training Program and Course Info

Training programs for butchers involve learning to break down large portions of meat to smaller sizes in the form of steak, ground meat, sausage or additional chopped or cut meat. They use tools such as grinders, cleavers, knives and slicing machines. Get info about important factors to consider when choosing a butcher school, and learn more about the training programs here.

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Butchers are skilled in the trade of handling and cutting foods such as pork, beef, veal, lamb, seafood and poultry, using technical preparation techniques in order to make the meat presentable and sanitary for sale. There are several colleges and universities around the country that offer relevant undergraduate training programs and courses for aspiring butchers.

10 Schools with Butcher Training Programs

These schools provide educational opportunities for students who are interested in becoming butchers:

College/University Location Institution Type Program Offered Tuition (2016-2017)*
GateWay Community College Phoenix, AZ Less than 2-year, Public Certificate $3,184-$5,206**
Vermont Technical College Randolph Center, VT 4-year, Public Certificate $900**
Eastern Oklahoma State College Wilburton, OK 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate $4,224 in-state, $7,840 out-of-state
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill Cobleskill, NY 4-year, Public Associate, Bachelor's $7,929 in-state, $17,779 out-of-state
Bridgerland Applied Technology College Logan, UT 2-year, Public Certificate $1,725**
University of Wisconsin-Extension Madison, WI 4-year, Public Course Series $5,000 in-state, $6,000 out-of-state**
Sterling College Sterling, KS 4-year, Private not-for-profit Course $1,250**
South Seattle Community College-Georgetown Auburn, WA 4-year, Public Apprenticeship N/A
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 4-year, Public Certificate $8,537 in-state, $23,058 out-of-state
University of Kentucky Lexington, KY 4-year, Public Workshops N/A

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School websites

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking at butcher training programs:

  • It is important to look into the program's curriculum since some focus entirely on meat cutting training while others offer a wider array of coursework in the food industry. Prospective students must choose a program that fulfills their educational needs.
  • There are different programs to prepare you for entry-level or apprentice-level work in preparation for career butchery.
  • Butchering-related program lengths vary widely, from workshops that last for only a few days to four-year bachelor's degrees, so prospective students should consider the time commitment they are willing to make when choosing between programs.
  • Because many programs include hands-on training with culinary supplies, it can be helpful to find out about the school's kitchen labs to make sure that students have the chance to work with the latest meat cutting technologies.
  • Prospective students should makes sure that the program operates under the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) protocol, which specifies the most up-to-date guidelines in food sanitation and safety.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs for aspiring butchers are available in topics such as meat cutting, meat processing and meat culinology. They can range significantly in length, lasting from a few days to a full year. Students learn about food safety, sanitation, portion control, knife handling and meat wrapping. While some programs require no previous education, others require students to hold an associate's degree before they enroll.

Standalone Courses

There are some schools that offer standalone courses or workshops in meat cutting. Like certificate programs, these courses typically cover the basics of meat cutting. Some last for only a few days, while others consist of multiple courses and may result in a designation at the end if the student completes all of the courses in the series.

Apprenticeship in Meat Cutting

An apprenticeship program typically lasts two years and is suitable for individuals who want a career as a butcher. In addition to the topics covered in a certificate program, an apprenticeship includes on-the-job training in maintaining merchandise and managing inventory. As a result, students gain both technical skills in meat cutting and fundamental business skills in customer service, professionalism and workplace practices. It is important to note that apprentices are paid for their work.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Undergraduate degree programs for butchers are rare, but there are a few options available. At the associate's degree level, it is possible to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Meat Processing and Food Safety, or to earn a related degree in a subject such as beef and livestock studies. It is also possible to earn a Bachelor of Technology (BT) in Food Systems & Technology, which includes studies in processing alongside a broader array of food industry-related topics, such as food marketing, food science and sustainability. In all associate's and bachelor's degree programs, students must also fulfill general education requirements.

Aspiring butchers can gain industry knowledge and hands-on experience through postsecondary training programs in meat cutting and related subjects. Program length and curriculum should be considered when choosing between programs.

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