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Occupational Profile

Meat Cutter

Meat cutters prepare standard cuts of meat, poultry and fish or products such as sausage in processing plants or retail food establishments.

  • Avg. Salary $37,818.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.85
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Up
  • Employed 3,800
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Butcher

NOC & Interest Codes
The Meat Cutter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers - Retail and Wholesale
NOC code: 6251
METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to process customers' orders; and to maintain inventories and keep records of meat sales

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to grind meats and slice cooked meats using powered grinders and slicing machines

directive

Interest in determining the amounts and types of meat cuts to be prepared; may supervise other butchers and meat cutters

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Industrial Butchers
NOC code: 9462.1
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating equipment to split carcasses into smaller portions to facilitate handling

METHODICAL

Interest in comparing information to remove viscera and other inedible parts from carcasses, and to skin, clean and trim carcasses

directive

Interest in preparing meat for further processing, packaging and marketing

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Meat cutters in retail establishments prepare meat cuts and products so they appear attractive and catch the shopper's eye. Duties vary from one job to another but, in general, retail meat cutters:

  • receive, store and rotate meat products
  • maintain storage, preparation and sales areas in accordance with an approved sanitation program
  • ensure meat quality
  • package, price and display meat items
  • prepare and market ready-to-cook and partially and fully prepared meat items
  • display meat products properly
  • maintain sanitation records.

Retail meat cutters also may:

  • serve customers
  • negotiate with representatives from supply companies
  • cut orders to meet special needs
  • keep records of meat sales
  • maintain inventories.

Meat cutters in meat processing plants use knives and specialized equipment to slaughter, break, cut, bone and trim meats into a variety of cuts for domestic and international markets. Practicing good personal hygiene and working within a stringent food safety system, they may work in a particular department performing a specific task or work on a variety of tasks. For example, they may work:

  • on the slaughter floor stunning, skinning, eviscerating or splitting carcasses
  • in the cutting room breaking carcasses into larger cuts ready for other departments or for processing
  • in processing departments or plants making value-added products such as sausage or boned hams
  • in case ready operations preparing individual size portions by breaking larger portions of meat and trimming them to pre-determined specifications for retail, hotel, restaurant or institutional establishments.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Meat cutters work indoors, generally in temperature-controlled conditions ranging from minus two to four degrees Celsius. They are on their feet most of their work day and routinely lift items weighing more than 20 kilograms. Safety precautions and safety equipment reduce the risk of injury from repetitive motions and working with sharp instruments such as knives and saws.

Most meat cutters work shifts.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Meat cutters need the following characteristics:

  • good health (a physical examination may be required for employment)
  • the strength and stamina required to stand for long periods and lift and move heavy pieces of meat
  • good hand-eye co-ordination, depth perception and colour vision
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • the ability to work independently and in a team environment
  • the ability to communicate courteously and effectively with co-workers and supervisors and, in the case of retail meat cutters, the general public.

Meat cutters should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, using tools and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, and taking responsibility for projects.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There are no formal education requirements for meat cutters. Many have learned on the job. However, most employers prefer to hire job applicants who are high school graduates or have related post-secondary education. On-the-job training takes one to two years depending on the trainee's related previous experience and education.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Olds College

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Meat cutters may be employed in meat processing plants or retail businesses such as supermarkets, specialty sausage and delicatessen stores, and independent meat markets. In processing plants, meat cutters usually start on an assembly line. Retail trainees usually start with routine work such as removing bones and gradually learn more complex skills such as rolling and tying roasts.

Experienced meat cutters may advance to supervisory positions such as meat department manager in a supermarket or team co-ordinator in a meat processing plant. Some meat cutters open their own meat markets or move into related positions in sales, inspection or quality assurance.

In Alberta, meat cutters are part of two larger 2011 National Occupational Classifications, 6331: Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale and National Occupational Classification 9462: Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers.

84% of people employed in the Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale group work in the Retail Trade (PDF) industry.

93% of the people who work in the Butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers group work in Manufacturing (PDF).

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 4,800 Albertans are employed in the Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.0% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 96 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As meat cutters form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for meat cutters.

Over 3,800 Albertans are employed in the Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 57 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As meat cutters form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for meat cutters.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Depending on the nature of their work, Meat cutters can be part of two larger 2011 National Occupational Classifications, 6331: Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale and 9462: Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale occupational group earned on average from $17.34 to $25.58 an hour. The overall average wage was $21.25 an hour. For more information, see the Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale wage profile.

Albertans in the Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers occupational group, on the other hand, earned on average from $15.56 to $21.18 an hour. The overall average wage was $20.85 an hour. For more information, see the Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Foods
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Canadian Meat Specialists website: www.meatforce.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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