Meat Butcher Jobs

Do you know your cuts of meat? Chuck, ribs, shank, loin, rib, flank, short loin, sirloin, tenderloin, round, spare ribs, and brisket are all tasty types of meat, but can you explain what part of the animal they come from? Could you make the cut? You could if you were a butcher.

Butchers, or meat cutters, slaughter, cut, portion, label, and sell beef, poultry, pork, lamb, game, and fish. It takes a seasoned professional to know and cut meat. A butcher understands the differences in types, tastes, and textures of different cuts.

It is a talent and a profession that has been perfected over several centuries.

Today over 125,000 butchers work in the United States to serve up ground beef, chicken breasts, flavored sausages, and other meaty treats for the delighted taste buds of meat-eating consumers. They are trusted advisors to the meat buying community. Butchers explain cuts of meats, describe tastes, clarify leanness, and make recommendations on dishes and wines. The key to being a successful butcher is to know and love raw meat.

Some people find the meat industry tough to stomach, but this is the industry that keeps burgers and steaks on our dinner plates. The meat industry begins in the slaughterhouse, where animals are humanely killed, skinned, and split. Then they are delivered to butchers, who work at supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher shops, fish markets, or specialty food stores.

Before the butcher accepts the delivery of meat, he must inspect it and have a place to store it safely. A butcher uses a variety of tools to cut the carcass, such as power slicers, cleavers, band saws, hand saws, and knives. With his tools and apron, the butcher prepares to get messy in a meat cutting room where he splits the carcass into halves and then quarters. These primal cuts of meat are boned and trimmed by the butcher to make smaller, usable bits of meat that can be sold at retail.

Retail meat is what you purchase at the store – roasts, steaks, chops, stew cubes, tongues, ground meat, ribs, or sausages. Butchers also may be asked to make custom cuts of meat for clients or science dissection labs. It takes an intimate knowledge of the anatomy of cows, pigs, buffalos, turkeys, chickens, elk, and fish to ensure that quality cuts of meat are made. Simple cuts can be learned in a few weeks of on the job training or apprenticeships, but the craft of butchering takes years to master.

After the meat is cut, the butcher must weight and label the meat. Next the packaged meat must be stored to prevent it from spoiling and to ensure that it ages properly. Sanitation is an absolute necessity for any butcher that wants to stay in business.

Every butcher is in charge of the cleanliness of his or her work area, equipment, and meat. Sanitary procedures help prevent the spread of raw meat diseases like Mad Cow, E.Coli, and salmonella. Butchers must obtain a health certificate with the Board of Health in order to operate.

If you want to be a butcher, learn the trade through on the job training. Most career butchers apprentice in butcher shops with master butchers. Other potential butchers attend meat expos. Some professional butchers compete at the meat cutting events in the Texas Roadhouse Meat Hero Competitions. Depending on experience, location, and skill a butcher can make $8 to $21 per hour or $23,000 to $51,000 per year.

Meat is a mainstay in the world’s diets. If we want meat to continue to be a staple food, the world needs butchers. It’s a timeless career that will never have to compete with technology.

Quick Facts About Butcher Work

Job Title: Butcher, Meat Cutters
Office: Meat cutting rooms
Description: Slaughter, cut, portion, and sell beef, poultry, lamb, buffalo, game, and fish
Certifications/Education: On the job training, Apprenticeship
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of meat and anatomy, Sanitary
Potential Employers: Butcher shops, grocery stores, fish markets, meat processing plants
Pay: $8 to $21 per hour, $23,000 to $51,000 per year. Average is $30,000 per year

Helpful Links:
American Meat Institute
National Meat Association
American Association of Meat Processors

 

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