Meat Cutting Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Although on-the-job training for meat cutters is common, certificate programs are available in meat cutting, processing and merchandising. Meat science also deals with meat cutting and evaluating, and some schools offer undergraduate and graduate-level degrees in meat science.

How to Select a Meat Cutting School

Before choosing a meat cutting school, prospective students should be clear about the roles they wish to play within the food industry. Meat cutters cut, trim, fillet or otherwise prepare meat, fish and poultry for retail sale and consumption. A number of colleges and universities across the country offer certificate and degree programs in meat cutting and meat science.

Consider the following when looking for meat cutting schools:

  • Some states require butchers to have health certificates, so a prospective student will want to choose a school that satisfies any legal requirements of the state in which he or she intends to work.
  • Students may want to look for programs with clubs or other student associations that allow them the opportunity to participate in statewide and national meat judging competitions.
  • Many schools have state-approved, on-site processing facilities that are used for teaching and research.

Meat Cutting Program Overviews

Apprentice Meat Cutter Certificate

Apprenticeships prepare students for employment at grocery stores, butcher shops or meat warehouses. Participants train on state-of-the-art hand tools and equipment as they process beef, pork and poultry products for retail sale. Apprenticeship requirements vary depending on the workplace; some require that candidates demonstrate competency in arithmetic to be accepted. While no federal guidelines for completing an apprenticeship exist, some states do have specifications, such as required classes in health and safety. Students learn about:

  • Cuts of meat
  • Retail merchandising
  • Safety
  • Sanitation
  • Terminology

Undergraduate Degree in Meat Science

Meat science coursework teaches students to judge and evaluate meat, as well as to handle meat in retail or wholesale settings. Credentials awarded can vary, from an associate's degree to a major or minor as part of one's bachelor's degree studies. Students usually complete an internship as part of their course requirements. Specific topics include:

  • Meat cutting
  • Processing
  • Cooking
  • Meat curing
  • Merchandising

Graduate Degrees in Meat Science

If a student's interests in meat cutting fall more on the side of research than retail and wholesale butchery, then he or she may want to prepare for graduate-level study in meat science. Graduate students go on to conduct research and to teach in the field of meat science. Completion of a bachelor's degree program is necessary before applying to a master's degree or Ph.D. program. Specific subfields include:

  • Food microbiology
  • Efficiency of meat processing
  • Food engineering

10 Schools with Meat Cutting Programs

College/University Institution Type
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill 4-year, Public
Texas A&M University 4-year, Public
Iowa State University 4-year, Public
Oklahoma State University 4-year, Public
Texas Tech University 4-year, Public
Ohio State University-Main Campus 4-year, Public
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign 4-year, Public
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 4-year, Public
California Polytechnic State University 4-year, Public
University of Minnesota 4-year, Public

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