How to Become a Butcher

Butcher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $29,890
Avg. Pay / hour $14.37
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook 3%

Butchers and meat cutters are professionals who cut, trim and package meat for consumers.

Most Butchers work in retail stores, such as grocery stores, but may also work in processing plants or animal slaughtering facilities.

Individuals who would like to become to become a Butcher will need some training and experience in order to find job opportunities in this field.

Education Requirements to Become a Butcher

There are no educational requirements in order to become a Butcher.

However, although there are no formal educational requirements to enter this profession, individuals will need to seek opportunities for on the job training and in addition, must also have certain characteristics to succeed in this profession.

Some natural characteristics that employers seek include individuals who have customer service skills, physical strength and stamina as well as being able to concentrate.

Because Butchers need precision to cut a large amount of meat products at a swift pace, individuals must also have the manual dexterity that will assist them in cutting meat into the right size, but in a safe and effective manner.

Individuals who want to become a Butcher at a retail store will need a minimum of one or two years of on the job training.

An individual first training to become a Butcher will begin their career by completing small and easy tasks at the entry level.

Typical entry level tasks will include removing bones from meat, completing simple cuts and preparing wholesale pieces of meat for retail.

This training is done under the supervision of an experienced Butcher who also provides feedback on the proper use of equipment and tools; an experienced Butcher will also provide information on safety precautions and food safety.

Entry level Butchers will then move onto more complicated tasks such as shaping, rolling and tying roasts and the preparation of sausage and curing meat.

For those working in retail stores, they will also learn about placing wholesale orders and preparing and tracking inventory.

Butcher Job Description

Butchers are professionals who are experienced in taking wholesale meat products and preparing them for retail consumption.

They are the individuals who are involved in supplying the meat section at your local grocer in a safe and efficient manner.

Butchers are first responsible for managing the equipment used to cut and size wholesale meat.

This task includes sharpening and correcting the cutting equipment used to complete their tasks.

After receiving a supply of wholesale meat, a Butcher will need to inspect the meat and store it immediately to support food safety.

When ready to prepare the meat for retail purposes, a Butcher will cut and de-bone the meat.

They are also responsible for grinding meat such as beef, pork and turkey as well as preparing ready to cook portions such as hamburgers and roast beefs.

After cutting, de-boning or grinding, Butchers will then weigh, wrap and store prepared meat in cellophane for display purposes or prepare them for storage in refrigerators or freezers.

Butchers are also responsible for taking specific client requests for specialized portions and instructions.

Individuals working in a retails store also have additional responsibilities associated with the operations of a store.

For examples, these Butchers will also be responsible for keeping inventory of the products, inventory of meat sales and ordering of additional meat supplies.

They may also be responsible for cleaning their work stations and other supplies used to cut and prepare meat for retail consumption.

Butcher Salary and Career Path

According to 2012 figures, the median annual salary for Butchers is approximately $28,490.

Entry level Butchers can expect starting wages to begin at approximately $18,150 per year while more seasoned Butchers can expect to earn $45,300 per year.

Job opportunities for individuals who want to become Butchers are projected to grow by 5 percent through 2022.

Although this projection is considered slower than average when compared to other occupations, there will be a demand for experienced Butchers to keep up with demand coming from customers who want pre-cut and prepared easy to cook meals.

This career might be of interest to you if you like to keep your hands busy and would like to have a physically demanding job.

Because of the demanding physical requirements, replacing workers for positions in processing plants creates the most job opportunities for prospective Butchers.

Individuals who work hard in this industry will have plenty of job opportunities in this field and a steady workflow.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$45,280
New Hampshire$43,840
New Jersey$42,080
New Mexico$33,570
New York$39,900
North Carolina$35,840
North Dakota$37,400
Rhode Island$34,670
South Carolina$33,800
South Dakota$32,740
West Virginia$27,300
Puerto Rico$20,660
Virgin Islands$30,790

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $49,520.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $49,520
Alaska - $47,680
Hawaii - $45,850
District of Columbia - $45,280
New Hampshire - $43,840
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Butchers and Meat Cutters, OCC Code 51-3021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a butcher?

A butcher is someone who cuts, trims, packages meat and prepares it for retail sales.

Butchers have to perform a variety of duties, including cutting and trimming meat into steaks, chops, roasts, and other cuts.

In order to prevent meat contamination, butchers must follow sanitation standards while working and while cleaning the utensils and work environment.

Some butchers also run their own retail store and are responsible for tracking inventory, ordering supplies and keeping records.

Butchers need dexterity, customer-service skills, physical stamina, and strength.

Most butchers work full time; they may also work early morning, late evenings, weekends and holidays.

Those who work in animal slaughtering and processing facilities may work in shifts.

How much does a butcher make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for butchers was $31,580 in May of 2018.

The median hourly rate for employees in this field is $15.18 per hour.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,900 while the highers 10 percent earned $49,110.

A butcher’s exact salary depends on the field where he or she is employed, and his or her level of experience.

Those who work in animal slaughtering and processing facilities earn a median annual wage of $30,400 while those who work for general merchandise stores earn around $35,390 per year.

How much does it cost to become a butcher?

There are no educational requirements to become a butcher, so you can become a butcher with no costs involved.

Butchers typically learn their skills through on-the-job training.

Trainees learn how to use the tools and equipment from more experienced butchers.

They also learn about food safety to minimize the risk of meat contamination.

More complicated cuts require training that can last from several months to a year.

Butchers who want to manage their own retail business may learn the skills needed to get started by finishing a two-year or a four-year college program in business administration.

What is the demand for butchers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of butchers is expected to grow 3 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations.

Because meat products are very popular in retail shops, butchers will still be needed in the future.

Additional job openings may appear because people leave the occupation each year due to the fact that it is too physically demanding.

How long does it take to become a butcher?

The answer to this question depends on your skills and determination.

There are no educational requirements for becoming a butcher, but there are many things that you need to learn through on-the-job training.

Learning how to cut meat is not an easy task and it may take more than a year of training until you’re ready to work as a butcher.

You have to master a variety of cuts, from simple to more complicated ones and you also have to learn about food safety.

You can start working as a trainee thus having the opportunity to learn from experienced butchers.

As a trainee, you will begin by learning simple tasks, such as removing bones and making simple cuts.

More complicated cuts require additional training that may take from several months to more than a year.

If you want to start your own retail business, a two-year associate’s or a four-year bachelor’s degree in business may help you learn more about the business side of this domain.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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