How to become a butcher

Job description: what does the butcher do?

Butchers not only produce meat and sausage products and sell them at the meat counter. Despite the increasing concentration, the profession includes all activities that belong to meat production, starting with slaughter, depending on the company.

Butchers are employed in particular in:

  • Butchers
  • Retail stores
  • Industrial companies for meat and sausage production
  • Wholesale meat markets
  • Slaughterhouses and cutting plants
  • Employment in gastronomy, for example, in inns with their own butcher’s, is also possible.

If the employee is employed in a slaughterhouse, the quality of the meat is assessed on the live animal. The animals – for example, cattle, pigs, chickens, and lambs – are stunned and slaughtered. The carcasses are evaluated and professionally dismantled. Butchers separate the meat from the bone (boning) and sort the parts of the animals according to their use and further processing. The meat quality is assessed, and it is prepared for sale.

Subsequent activities – for example, in butchers and delicatessen shops – include the production of meat and sausage products and delicatessen products and canned goods. Some of the meat is processed into cooked and raw sausages, the other into minced meat, cordon bleu, roulades, or goulash. The meat is cut into appropriate pieces and, if necessary, seasoned or marinated and packaged. Raw materials and ingredients must be stored and checked for production. The production of kitchen-ready products and dishes, such as sandwiches, schnitzel, hamburgers and their packaging and sale, can also be part of the job of a butcher. It is also possible to work with catering and party services to prepare buffets or dishes prepared on-site. Butchers present and sell their products at the sales counter and advise and inform their customers about using the goods and the origin of the meat.

When working in meat wholesalers or the meat and sausage industry, meat products are produced in large quantities, and computer-controlled machines replace a large part of the manual labor.

Average salary: how much does a butcher make?

The average butcher makes $30,300 per year. The lowest earned less than $22,400, and the highest earned more than $38,900.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Butcher responsibilities and requirements

Because they work with perishable food, butchers should have a careful and precise way of working and know about hygiene and food law. Compliance with these regulations requires a certain sense of responsibility and a sense of cleanliness and hygiene. The predominantly physical work is carried out mainly while standing so that employees can cope with physical stress and be highly committed. Depending on the location, shift or night work may also be necessary.

A school leaving certificate is not mandatory for training as a butcher, but companies predominantly train applicants with a secondary school leaving certificate. They should have a good knowledge of mathematics and an interest in biology and chemistry. For recipes, for example, the proportions of the individual ingredients must be calculated and prices calculated. It is also essential for quality assessment and food production to know and observe biological and chemical processes. Good command of written and spoken English is also required: recipes and work instructions must be followed, and protocols or reports must often be drawn up for quality control.

Manual skills are required when cutting, loosening, or cutting meat and handling knives and special tools. Also, there should be an interest in working with different devices and machines and a passion for handling food. When developing the product range, creativity and a good sense of smell and taste are required. Since the products are always created in collaboration, butchers should be able to work in a team.

When selling the products, the focus is on customer contact. For sound advice, friendliness and having fun dealing with customers are just as important as specialist knowledge.

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