Aspiring meat cutters should be prepared for physical labor since they will be required to lift heavy meat products. Pupils are taught to process portions of meat as well as complete carcasses, including whole cattle and hogs, into packaged and retail-ready food products. Additionally, they might train in specialty skills such as sausage making, which involves blending raw meat products with spices.
Certificates of completion are sometimes awarded to those who fulfill the requirements of meat cutter apprenticeship programs. Although certification is not required or widely offered, licensing may be necessary. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
Meat Cutter Apprenticeship Programs
Meat cutter apprenticeship programs generally cover food processing, mathematics and customer service. Specific courses might include:
- Meat cooking
- Meat packaging
- Seafood processing
- Customer service practices
- Business math
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for butchers was forecasted to grow five percent in the decade spanning 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The largest number of meat cutters and butchers were employed with grocers. As of 2015, butchers and meat cutters earned a median annual salary of $29,130 based on BLS figures.
Even for those who have completed an apprenticeship program, on-the-job training is an essential part of beginning a career as a meat cutter. New hires typically work side-by-side with industry professionals to cut, handle and process raw meats, in addition to learning to operate in a retail environment. There is no industry-wide certification for meat cutters. However, they may need to meet state or local licensure requirements.
Individuals interested in becoming meat cutters can learn all aspects of their trade while gaining experience through a meat cutter apprenticeship program. Students should be aware of the physical nature of the job before applying.