Meatcutters and Meat Packers

Meatcutters cut animal carcasses into smaller portions and prepare meat, poultry, and fish for sale in food outlets or for cooking in hotels and restaurants. They work in slaughterhouses, food processing plants, and meat-packing plants. They also work in hotels, restaurants, and retail stores such as supermarkets and groceries that sell fresh meats, where they are referred to as butchers. There are approximately 138,900 butchers and meatcutters.

Meatpacking workers slaughter, clean, cut, process, and package the meat from cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry. They also process animal parts for by-products such as margarine, lard, hides, wool, soap, feed, and fertilizer. There are about 82,070 slaughterers and meatpackers employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Butchers, Cutters, Slaughterers, Trimmers
Duties Slaughter, clean, cut, process, and package meat from cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry (meat packers); cut animal carcasses into smaller portions and prepare meat, poultry, and fish for sale (meatcutters)
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $50,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all regions but are best in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Texas
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Apprenticeship
School Subjects
  • Agriculture
  • Biology
  • Family and Consumer Science
Experience Apprenticeship or part-time experience useful
Personality Traits
  • Athletic
  • Conventional
  • Hands On
  • Interpersonal
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Buyer or Meat Department Manager, Supermarket
  • Manager
  • Supervisor
  • Helper, or Laborer, or Apprentice

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