Meat Cutter Training, Course and Certification Information
Meat cutters use hand tools and power equipment, such as meat slicers, cleavers, power cutters, knives and bandsaws, to butcher and ration various types of meat. Meat cutters typically learn their trade through apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs for meat cutters combine classroom-based coursework with hands-on training.
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 are awarded to those who fulfill the requirements of meat cutter apprenticeship programs. Although certification is not required or widely offered, licensing may be necessary.
- Program Levels in Meat Cutting: Apprenticeships, certificate programs
- Prerequisites: 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 food processing occupations, including butchers and meat cutters, was forecasted to grow five percent in the decade spanning 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The largest number of meat cutters and butchers were employed with grocers. As of May 2012, butchers and meat cutters earned a median annual salary of $28,490 based on BLS figures.
Even for those who have completed an apprenticeship program, on-the-job training is an essential part of a 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.