Butchers

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Butchers cut, trim, and package meat for retail sale.

Work Environment: Most butchers work in grocery stores and specialty meat shops, and some work in animal slaughtering and processing plants. The work can be physically demanding and may include exposure to repetitive motions, dangerous equipment, and cold temperatures.

How to Become One: Butchers learn their skills on the job. No formal education is required.

Salary: The median annual wage for butchers is $36,050.

Job Outlook: Employment of butchers is projected to decline 3 percent over the next ten years.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of butchers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a butcher with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Butcher Jobs

  • Butcher - Cipriani - New York, NY

    Butcher REPORTS TO: Executive Chef SALARY RANGE: $24.00-26.00 per hour Background Casa Cipriani New York is a private members club located in the Battery Maritime Building, within a larger project ...

  • Butcher Needed For Korean BBQ - Kijung Hospitality Group Inc - Rowland Heights, CA

    The butcher will process and stock a variety of quality meat and meat-related items in a careful, clean, neat, and expedient manner; ensuring that product is fresh and appealingly prepared for our ...

  • Meat Cutter - Butcher - MeatWorks - Riley, KS

    Company Description MeatWorks of Kansas is a small locally owned custom meat processing butcher serving Riley, Manhattan, and surrounding areas. We work with local producers to provide fresh, quality ...

See all Butcher jobs

Top 1 Meatcutter Jobs

  • Meat Cutter / Hillsboro - HireQuest, Inc - Hillsboro, OR

    Meat Production - Meat Cutter HireQuest Direct - Hillsboro, OR Job Description HireQuest Direct in Hillsboro is hiring for MeatCutter jobs for the nation's largest beef jerky manufacturing company

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What Butchers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Butchers cut, trim, and package meat for retail sale.

Duties of Butchers

Butchers typically do the following:

  • Sharpen and adjust knives and cutting equipment
  • Receive, inspect, and store meat upon delivery
  • Cut, debone, or grind pieces of meat
  • Weigh, wrap, and display meat or meat products
  • Cut or prepare meats to specification or customers' orders
  • Store meats in refrigerators or freezers at the required temperature
  • Clean equipment and work areas to maintain health and sanitation standards

Butchers cut and trim meat from larger, wholesale portions into steaks, chops, roasts, and other cuts. They then prepare meat for sale by performing various duties, such as weighing meat, wrapping it, and putting it out for display. In retail stores, they also wait on customers and prepare special cuts of meat upon request.

Butchers in meat-processing plants are also known as meatcutters. They may have a more limited range of duties than those working in a grocery store or specialty meat shop. Because they typically work on an assembly line, those in processing plants usually perform one specific function—a single type of cut—during their shift.

Butchers use knives, grinders, or meat saws. They follow sanitation standards while working and when cleaning equipment, countertops, and working areas in order to prevent meat contamination.

Butchers who run their own retail store also track inventory, order supplies, and perform other recordkeeping duties.

Work Environment for Butchers[About this section] [To Top]

Butchers hold about 146,900 jobs. The largest employers of butchers are as follows:

Food and beverage stores 78%
General merchandise stores 8%
Animal slaughtering and processing 8%

The work can be physically demanding, particularly for butchers who make repetitive cuts in processing plants. Butchers typically stand while cutting meat and often lift and move heavy carcasses or boxes of meat supplies.

Because meat must be kept at cool temperatures, butchers commonly work in cold rooms—typically around 40 degrees Fahrenheit—for extended periods.

Butchers must keep their hands and working areas clean to prevent contamination, and those working in retail settings must remain presentable for customers.

Injuries and Illnesses for Butchers

Butchers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. These workers use tools that can be dangerous, such as sharp knives and meat saws, and work in areas with slippery floors and surfaces. To reduce the risk of cuts and falls, workers wear protective clothing, such as cut-resistant gloves, heavy aprons, and nonslip footwear.

Butcher Work Schedules

Most butchers work full time. Some work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Butcher[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Butchers near you!

Most butchers learn their skills through on-the-job training lasting more than a year. No formal education is required.

Education for Butchers

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a butcher.

Butcher Training

Butchers typically learn their skills on the job, and the length of training varies considerably. Training for simple cutting may take only a few weeks. However, more complicated cutting tasks 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 and equipment. For example, they learn how to sharpen their knives and clean working areas and equipment.

Trainees also may learn how to shape, roll, and tie roasts; prepare sausage; and cure meat. Employees also receive training in food safety to minimize the risk of foodborne pathogens in meats.

Butchers who follow religious dietary guidelines for food preparation may be required to undergo more specialized training and certification before becoming endorsed by a religious organization to prepare meat.

Important Qualities for Butchers

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 strong enough to lift and carry heavy boxes of meat, which may weigh more than 50 pounds.

Butcher Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for butchers is $36,050. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,770.

The median annual wages for butchers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

General merchandise stores $37,920
Animal slaughtering and processing $36,770
Food and beverage stores $34,410

Most butchers work full time. Some work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook for Butchers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of butchers is projected to decline 3 percent over the next ten years.

Despite declining employment, about 17,700 openings for butchers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Butchers

Long-term food purchasing patterns have trended towards more pre-made and pre-packaged meat products and cuts. This trend is expected to continue over the decade, leading to projected employment declines of butchers and meat cutters.

Employment projections data for Butchers, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Butchers and meat cutters 146,900 142,000 -3 -4,900


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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