How to become a Butcher. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Butcher do?
Butchers sell meat, poultry and meat-based products through individual shops, supermarkets or local markets. Specialist butchers may also make their own meat products such as sausages, burgers and pies.
As a butcher, your work would include:
- buying, ordering and controlling stock
- receiving deliveries and checking their content and hygiene
- moving meat stock to cold storage areas
- preparing product displays
- cutting, boning and trimming meat
- serving customers at the counter
- advising customers on how to prepare and cook meat.
You may also drive to markets, wholesalers and customers’ premises.
You could specialise in halal, kosher or organic foods, depending on the demands of the local community.
You would work around 40 hours a week which may include early mornings. You would usually work Saturdays, and Sundays in supermarkets, with time off during the week.
You will spend much of the day on your feet and you may need to lift and carry heavy joints of meat. You will wear protective clothing when handling meat, to comply with hygiene standards.
You may work in chill rooms and cold stores for short periods.
How much does a Butcher earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Butchers can earn between around £15,200 and £17,000 a year.
- With experience this can rise to between £17,500 and £24,000 or more a year
- Managers can earn around £33,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You would usually start as a trainee or assistant butcher and learn on the job. You could have an advantage if you have experience in food retail.
Some employers will prefer you to have a Food Safety for Retail (or Catering or Manufacturing) Certificate, which can be taken as a one day course. See the CIEH, and RSPH websites for course details.
- Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
- Royal Society for Public Health
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
Once working, you will be trained on the job, which may include a Food Safety Certificate or a short Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) course. The HACCP system covers EU food safety regulations.
Some employers may expect you to work towards NVQs levels 2 and 3 in Food Manufacture.
You could also complete a range of qualifications provided by the Meat Training Council, including:
- Intermediate Certificate in Meat and Poultry – covers the knowledge needed for NVQ Level 2 in Food Manufacture
- Advanced Certificate in Meat and Poultry – covers the theory for NVQ Level 3 in Food Manufacture
- Butchers’ Hygiene and HACCP course.
You could join the Worshipful Company of Butchers’ Guild (the professional body for butchers). There are various grades of membership, depending on your qualifications:
- NVQ Level 2 – Affiliate
- NVQ Level 3 – Associate.
Membership of the Guild is a way of showing customers that you work to high professional standards.
Skills and Knowledge
- good practical skills
- high standards of personal cleanliness
- the ability to work well in a team
- good communication and customer service skills
- in-depth product knowledge
- good visual sense for counter and window displays
- maths skills for handling payments.
You can work in independent butchers’ shops, retail chains and supermarket butchery departments. Setting up your own shop is also an option.
With supermarkets and chains you are likely to have the opportunity to progress to supervisor or management posts. You could also use your skills to move into catering, meat manufacturing and meat wholesaling outlets.
With experience, you may be able to move into the Meat Hygiene Service, checking quality and standards in abattoirs and meat plants. See the Meat Inspector profile for more details.