Butchers typically learn their skills on the job.
Butchers typically need no formal educational credential to enter the occupation. They learn their skills through on-the-job training.
No formal education credential is typically required for becoming a butcher, although some employers may prefer to hire workers who have a high school diploma.
Butchers typically learn their skills on the job, and the length of training varies considerably. Training for simple meat cutting, such as for prepared food items, may take about a week. However, more complicated cutting tasks, such as for specialty cuts of meat from a large animal, generally require training that may last from several months to more than a year.
Training for entry-level workers often begins by having the worker learn less difficult tasks, such as making simple cuts, removing bones, or dividing wholesale cuts into retail portions. Under the guidance of more experienced workers, trainees learn the proper use and care of tools. For example, they learn how to sharpen knives and clean working areas and equipment.
Trainees also may learn how to shape, roll, and tie roasts; make sausage; and cure meat. Employees also receive training in food safety to minimize the risk of foodborne pathogens in meats.
Workers typically enter the occupation as a meat clerk or meat cutter. After gaining experience as a meat cutter and demonstrating proficiency, they may become a butcher.
Some employers or unions may offer apprenticeship programs for butchers.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states and localities require butchers to have a food handler’s certification. Requirements vary. For more information, contact your state or local licensing board.
Butchers who follow religious dietary guidelines for food preparation may be required to undergo more specialized training that leads to certification before becoming endorsed by a religious organization to prepare meat.
Customer-service skills. Butchers who work in retail stores should be courteous, be able to answer customers’ questions, and fill orders to customers’ satisfaction.
Dexterity. Butchers use sharp knives and meatcutting equipment as part of their duties. They must have good hand control in order to make proper cuts of meat that are the right size.
Physical stamina. Butchers spend hours on their feet while cutting, packaging, or storing meat.
Physical strength. Butchers should be able to lift and carry heavy boxes of meat, which may weigh more than 50 pounds.