California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Butchers and Meat Cutters in San Diego County

May also be called: Meat Butchers; and Meat Counter Workers

What Would I Do?

Butchers and Meat Cutters (typically called Meat Cutters in the retail industry) skillfully cut and prepare large, wholesale pieces of meat, fish, or poultry for retail sale. Butchers and Meat Cutters slice cuts of meat into steaks and chops; they shape and tie roasts, as well as grind beef and other meats. They may weigh, wrap, label, and display the meat, fish, or poultry for retail sale. Additionally, they may prepare special cuts to fulfill a shopper’s custom order.

TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY

Butchers and Meat Cutters work with potentially dangerous cutting tools. They use knives and power equipment such as saws, slicers, grinders, and cubers. They may also use scales, wrappers, compactors, and hand trucks.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Cut, trim, bone, tie, and grind meats, such as beef, pork, poultry, and fish, to prepare meat in cooking form.Near Vision
Shape, lace, and tie roasts, using boning knife, skewer, and twine.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Cure, smoke, tenderize, and preserve meat.Production and Processing
Wrap, weigh, label, and price cuts of meat.Food Production
Prepare special cuts of meat ordered by customers.Customer and Personal Service
Negotiate with representatives from supply companies to determine order details.Persuasion
Receive, inspect, and store meat upon delivery, to ensure meat quality.Problem Sensitivity
Record quantity of meat received and issued to cooks and/or keep records of meat sales.Written Comprehension
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Most Meat Cutters work in retail establishments—from small, family-owned butcher shops to large supermarket chains. Some work in establishments that provide meat to restaurants. Butchers typically work in slaughtering and meat processing plants. Butchers and Meat Cutters usually work a 40-hour week. Those in retail may work nights, weekends, and holidays. Grocery stores typically offer premium pay to those who work weekends and holidays.

The job requires physical strength to lift and carry large cuts of meat. Workers need good eyesight and the ability to move about with ease and speed. They need to be able to stand for long periods, bend, twist, squat, and walk frequently.

Butchers and Meat Cutters often work in large, refrigerated rooms. They work with potentially dangerous cutting tools, so following safety guidelines is very important. They may be exposed to strong cleaning chemicals and the air may smell unpleasant. Although they work in clean conditions, their clothing is often soiled with animal blood. Additionally, Meat Cutters in retail establishments may encounter stress when interacting with customers.

Butchers and Meat Cutters wear protective safety equipment and sanitary clothing, such as hats, hairnets, and gloves.

Butchers and Meat Cutters may belong to a union such as the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Butcher and Meat Cutter may appeal to those who like working with tools and machinery. Those who enjoy activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions may like this type of work. Meat Cutters should not mind working with animal carcasses. Those working in retail should enjoy interacting with customers.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Butchers and Meat Cutters in California is $27,366 annually, or $13.16 hourly. The median wage for Butchers and Meat Cutters in San Diego County is $24,722 annually, or $11.88 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$22,109$27,366$38,656
San Diego County$21,466$24,722$31,419
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefits generally include medical, dental, and life insurance, as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Even though meatpacking plants are prepackaging more and more meat for retail sale, demand for Butchers and Meat Cutters is expected to increase. However, most openings will be created by the need to replace those who retire, promote to lead or management positions, or leave the job for other reasons.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Butchers and Meat Cutters is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Butchers and Meat Cutters are expected to increase by 13.9 percent, or 3,000 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Butchers and Meat Cutters is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Butchers and Meat Cutters are expected to increase by 17.3 percent, or 360 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Butchers and Meat Cutters
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
21,60024,6003,00013.95,300
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
2,0802,44036017.3510
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 310 new job openings per year is expected for Butchers and Meat Cutters, plus an additional 530 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 840 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 37 new job openings per year is expected for Butchers and Meat Cutters, plus an additional 51 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 88 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Butchers and Meat Cutters
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
310530840
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
375188
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Formal education is not required to become a Butcher or Meat Cutter; however, most employers prefer that candidates have a high school diploma or the equivalent. California requires those who operate power-driven, meat-processing machines to be at least 18 years old.

Experience

Experience varies by employer. Some grocery chains prefer to promote and train their employees from within their organization.

Early Career Planning

Those interested in becoming a Butcher or Meat Cutter should take classes such as basic math and English. Shop classes help develop skill in the use of hand and power tools.

Some Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) offer introductory meat processing courses. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Apprenticeship Programs

Some Butchers and Meat Cutters learn the trade through formal apprenticeship programs offered through local unions. Apprenticeship programs consist of on-the-job training plus related classroom instruction. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and physically able to perform the work. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.

Certification

Some employers prefer that job applicants have a food safety certificate. California accepts certification from organizations accredited by the American National Standards Institute, Conference for Food Protection. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Butchers and Meat Cutters are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Grocery Stores 78.7%
Specialty Food Stores 7.9%
Other General Merchandise Stores 6.1%
Grocery Product Merchant Wholesalers 2.3%
Animal Slaughtering and Processing 1.7%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings may also provide job leads. Those who belong to a union may also find work through their local union hall. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Butchers and Meat Cutters.

  • Butchers
  • Grocers
  • Grocery Stores
  • Meat
  • Meat Cutters
  • Supermarkets

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Butchers and Meat Cutters may promote to lead or management positions. Some may become federal, state, or local government food inspectors.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Butchers and Meat Cutters with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Chefs and Head CooksGuide
Cooks, Fast FoodProfile
Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and TrimmersProfile
Slaughterers and Meat PackersProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification51-3021
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Butchers and Meat Cutters51-3021.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCE