Career Profile: Meat Cutter

Career Profile: Meat Cutter

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

One of the easiest lunches to make is a sandwich with sliced meat. Many people have meat at least once or twice a day, but they might not think of how it comes to them. Retail meat cutters, also known as butchers, are the tradespeople who help to make these meals possible.

Almost seventy-five percent of meat cutters work in grocery stores, and others work in processing plants or places like restaurants. Many of them work long hours, often early in the morning. They sharpen and adjust cutting equipment, cut or grind meat and take out the bones, and sometimes prepare special requests from customers. Meat cutters need enough physical strength and stamina to deal with heavy pieces of meat and to get through bones with their tools. They have to know how to store meats and clean the equipment to avoid spreading diseases. Meat cutters also work with packaging, pricing, and displaying meat in stores.

Many meat cutters need to know how to deal with customers but also how to work alone. Some of them might work at a meat counter at a grocery store where they deal with customers all day, or they might work at a processing plant and see only their coworkers.

Meat cutters need a certain amount of manual dexterity to deal with the machines, and they should be able to work in cold conditions. Even though they normally work indoors, they need to be able to handle the cool temperatures necessary to keep meat from going bad. Often, they go in and out of meat freezers where they have to wear special gloves to protect their hands. Meat cutters also need to be able to deal with the sight of blood and the inner organs of animals, as well as other things that they might find unpleasant.

Depending on where they work and how much experience they have, retail meat cutters can earn between $29,000 and $48,000 per year. Normally, jobs in this trade require a high school education with courses in mathematics, English, and science, and also an apprenticeship of at least four thousand hours. However, you can already get started on your career by learning as much as possible about different types of meat.

Being a retail meat cutter requires a special set of skills that might not easily transfer to other work, but people in this field can normally find work even when they are older and not very strong. Having special abilities such as cutting meat according to Jewish or Muslim religious guidelines can also help people find work, since not everyone would know how to do this. A wide set of skills can be very helpful for people in this trade.

As long as people eat meat, they will need meat cutters, but large cities are more likely than small towns to have work in this field. If you prefer to work with a few people, a small deli or butcher’s shop might be a good place to go. However, if you like lots of activity, a large grocery store might be better. Wherever you go, people will appreciate your work at mealtime.


Apprentice Search.com. “What Does a Retail Meat Cutter Do?” http://www.apprenticesearch.com/AboutTrades/GetTradeDetails?tradeId=60&TradeName=retail-meat-cutter.

Government of Alberta. “Occupational Profile: Meat Cutter.” https://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/occupations-in-alberta/occupation-profiles/meat-cutter/.

Payscale.com. “Meat Cutter, Retail Salary (Canada).”


Truity.com. “Butcher or Meat Cutter.” https://www.truity.com/career-profile/butcher-or-meat-cutter.

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