Since prehistoric times, people have always slaughtered animals such as cows, goats and chicken for their meat, which is eaten as food. How times change! Today, all you need to do is rush to a butcher shop, where butchers dress and ready raw meat for sale. Butchers can be employed by grocery stores, supermarkets, fish markets and animal slaughtering and processing plants.
What Do Butchers Do?
A day in the life of a butcher typically involves the following tasks;
- Inspecting the quality of meat after delivery from slaughterhouses
- Storing meat in freezers and refrigerators at required temperatures
- Adjusting and sharpening meat cutting equipment
- Maintaining workplace cleanliness and sanitation standards
- Taking customers’ orders and cutting and grinding meat according to their preferences
- Keeping inventories of meat sales
Although they commonly have one or two days off, butchers work throughout the week. They report to work early morning and leave late in the evening, often at 11 pm. Those working in 24-hour butcher shops work in shifts.
At the workplace, butchers need to be clean and presentable to customers. They are also often exposed to cold temperatures.
Education and Training
No formal education is required for butchers. Skills are learnt through on the job training sessions, which can last up to two years. Training usually involves learning how to make cuts through meat, remove bones, divide large pieces of meat into retail potions and cure meat. It also focuses on developing the following skills and abilities;
- Customer-service skills
- Manual dexterity- a good hand control to cut meat properly
- Physical stamina – to lift and carry large pieces of meat
- Concentration skills to focus on their job and avoid injuries
- Arithmetic skills to handle customer payments
- Excellent communication skills
- Team-working skills
The following table highlights salaries for butchers in the U.K.
Average Annual Wage
£12,000 - £16,000
£16,500 - £22,000
Source: National Careers Service
If you want to develop your career and enhance your prospects of becoming a supervisor or food inspection manager, you can pursue professional training courses in food safety or catering offered by:
- Royal Society of Public Health
- Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
- Meat Training Council
Also, you can join professional associations such as the Worshipful Company of Butchers Guild, or the National Association of Catering Butchers to enhance your professional standing.
Unlike most occupations in the U.K. economy, the employment of skilled craft professionals, including butchers, is likely to experience little growth from 2014 through 2020. According to the National Careers Service, there will be 390,000 skilled craft employees in 2020, down from 465,000 in 2014. This is largely due to the fact that most animal slaughtering and processing plants prepare and package meat products, leaving butchers with little to do.
However, with older butchers retiring from their positions and the popularity of meat products such as pizza and sausages increasing, prospective butchers can expect to have good job opportunities. You can also venture into self-employment by establishing a butcher shop in your local area.