Career Profile: Meat Cutter/Butcher
If you ever help with making supper for your family, you know that preparing food is a group effort. Your mother or father might do most of the cooking, but maybe you help to set the table or to chop the vegetables. Even before the food gets to your house, several people have probably been involved in preparing it. There are the farmers who grew grain for flour. Next, bakers used the flour to make the bread that your parents bought. If you eat meat, there are probably several more people, including the farmers who raised the animals and the meat cutters who prepared the food for sale. Meat cutters play an important role in making sure that the meat people eat looks and tastes good, and also that it is well kept and safe for people to eat.
Meat cutters, sometimes also known as butchers, are often the last people to deal with meat before it goes into people’s homes and then to their tables. Retail meat cutters work in grocery stores and other places where people go to buy their meat. They clean, cut and weigh meat before putting it into packages for sale. They make sure that the store is clean and that the meat is stored at the right temperature and under the right conditions to keep it fresh. They advise people about the best kind of meat for their family meals or for restaurant or banquet meals. They report to their supervisors about problems such as products that have spoiled or are not up to the store’s standards.
In restaurants, meat cutters prepare food according to what the diners want. They have to learn to prepare certain cuts of meat and to remove the bones from meat if necessary. They also have to work with fish and other items on the restaurant’s menu. Other meat cutters work at processing plants, preparing meat to send to stores and restaurants. In addition to cutting up meat to sell to customers, they might also grind up meat and turn it into sausages or remove the bones from ham or other kinds of meat.
Working as a meat cutter can be a good job, but it also has challenges. A high school diploma is often necessary. Some meat cutters also learn their trade through classes, but others learn on the job. Physical endurance to stand for long hours and the ability to use sharp knives and slicers are the most important requirements. Often, meat cutters have to work in cold environments and be able to work well with others. Salaries vary a lot from one region to another, but meat cutters generally make between about $25,000 and $48,000 per year. Gaining experience or learning a special skill can help meat cutters rise to the top income level.
Do you love food and working with meat? Can you learn to help customers and to stand for a long time? If so, the job of a meat cutter might be right for you.