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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.

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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.

Schools with Meat Cutting Programs

The following schools offer degrees and certificates in meat science.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (In-State, 2015-2016)*
Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX 4-year, Public Undergraduate Certificate, Graduate Certificate Undergrad: $10,176
Grad: $8,656
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Master's, Doctorate Grad: $9,172
Eastern Oklahoma State College Wilburton, OK 4-year, Public Undergraduate Certificate, Associate's Undergrad: $3,947
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergrad: $8,028
Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergrad: $10,037
Grad: $12,425
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Master's, Doctorate Grad: $18,041
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergrad: $9,001

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for meat cutting schools:

  • Before choosing a meat cutting school, prospective students should be clear about the roles they wish to play within the food industry. Undergraduate programs and apprenticeships can prepare students for careers in retail and wholesale settings, while graduate programs are more suited to individuals interested in teaching or research careers.
  • 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.

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 and 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 and 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, and food engineering.

Meat cutting is a skill which can be developed through a meat science program. Programs are available at all certificate and degree levels, but options vary greatly by school.

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