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Meat Cutting

Meat cutters work at all levels of food production involving animals, from slaughterhouse to grocery store, ensuring the quality and safety of the meat that humans eat. Read on to discover how to turn your enthusiasm for food into a career as a butcher, slaughterer or meat cutter.

Inside Meat Cutting

Meat cutters work to transform animals into food at every step of the process, from live animal to packaged meat or even ready-to-eat meals. Meat cutters are employed in various occupational environments; some work in large meat-processing plants, slaughtering animals and breaking their dressed bodies down into wholesale parts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these workers are increasingly expected to also produce some ready-to-cook or prepared foods in addition to wholesale meats. ( Other meat cutters work in food processing facilities cutting meat for use in products such as lunch meat or sausage. Still others work in local grocery and specialty stores, where they cut and package meat into smaller portions to be sold to consumers.

Another career path for those with an interest in meat cutting is to become a food inspector. Food inspectors with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are charged with inspecting meat processing plants in order to ascertain the quality and safety of meat. They check to ensure that proper regulations and sanitation rules are followed in the production areas and that the final product meets all guidelines for contaminants.

Meat cutting takes place in several different and distinct occupational arenas, but the core skills remain the same. Meat cutters need to know about the types and cuts of meat, as well as local and federal health and safety regulations. If you're interested in a career in this field, the links from below will help you get started.

Education and Training Information

The BLS states that meat cutting positions generally do not require specific training, although there are some positions for which having an associate degree in meat cutting might be useful. Instead, most training is on-the-job and can take 1-2 years.

For those interested in becoming a food inspector, the FSIS indicates that either a bachelor's degree in any field or at least one year of experience in a food-related industry, such as meat cutting, is a necessary prerequisite ( Additionally, the candidate must pass a written test.

Degree Options

While most meat cutting jobs feature on-the-job training, certificate or degree programs can be found for those interested in a career as a meat cutter.

Distance Learning Options

Meat cutting education is necessarily hands-on, and so must take place either on the job or at a suitable campus. While distance learning or online programs are unavailable in meat cutting specifically, there are several closely related fields in which it is possible to receive a distance learning education. These links should help you learn more about them.

Career Options

Whether you're interested in being a grocery store butcher, a packing plant meat cutter or an inspector charged with overseeing the latter, these links will explain the steps to take to be successful in your career.

Employment Information

As of May 2013, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for meat cutters and butchers, who prepare meats for retail establishments, was $29,950. For the same period, the BLS indicated that meat, poultry and fish cutters and trimmers, generally employed in animal slaughtering and processing and seafood product preparation, earned a mean annual salary of $23,850; slaughterers and meat packers, who work in wholesale meat preparation, made an average annual salary of $25,400. Employment of meat cutters and butchers is expected to increase five percent in the 2012-2022 decade, which is considered slower than average by the BLS.

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