Meat Cutting Degrees by Program Level

Topics covered while pursuing an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Meat Processing include food safety, merchandising, processing technologies and animal science. Internships and hands-on work experiences are also encouraged.

Essential Information

Individuals interested in cutting meat products, like beef, veal, chicken and pork, can earn a degree in meat processing. The most common college degree relevant to meat cutting is the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Meat Processing.

This program incorporates concepts from agriculture, culinary arts and natural sciences. Programs provide hands-on opportunities for students to work with livestock and meat products.

Associate's Degrees in Meat Processing

Students in meat processing AAS programs learn to care for livestock, identify and cut particular types of meat, safely store meat products and transport them to restaurants and markets. The curriculum also includes differentiating between retail and wholesale cutting. Students usually learn about:

  • Animal science
  • Meat processing technology
  • Food safety
  • Meat merchandising
  • Livestock processing

Popular Career Options

Earning an AAS in meat processing prepares graduates for a number of careers in the animal food product industry. Since programs cover several topics in addition to meat cutting, graduates can work in areas like livestock care, food safety or food service. Many graduates choose one of the careers mentioned below:

  • Meat inspector
  • Butcher
  • Deli meat slicer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

In 2015, there were 137,350 butchers and meat cutters employed in the industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth is estimated at 5%, which is as fast as average, over the span of the years from 2014 to 2024. The median annual wage for butchers and meat cutters is $29,130, as reported by the BLS in May of 2015.

Certification and Continuing Education Options

While butchers and deli meat processors don't need any type of state license or certification, some positions in the meat processing industry do require a license. Meat quality inspectors usually need a certificate from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and some advanced meat inspection positions require a bachelor's degree in agriculture or food science.

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in meat processing is a meat cutting degree that provides graduates with the knowledge needed to enter the food industry as butchers, inspectors, and in care of livestock. Additional industry certification may be required based upon the desired employment position.

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