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How to Become a Slaughterer or Meat Packer

Slaughterers and meat packers do not need formal education. They get on-the-job training. 


Slaughterers and meat packers get on-the-job training. They are not expected to know the job before they start.

On-the-job training may last a few days or a few months, but slaughterers and meat packers often get more training every year. Generally, trainees begin by doing less difficult jobs, such as making simple cuts or removing bones. Trainees learn how to properly use and care for tools and equipment under the guidance of experienced workers.

Work Experience

Slaughterers and meat packers generally do not need previous work experience to qualify for entry level positions. However, having previously worked in a physically demanding occupation, such as one in construction, may improve an applicant’s chance of gaining employment.


Formal education is not required for slaughterers and meat packers. However, education may help them advance into managerial and other positions with more responsibility. Slaughterers and meat packers must have basic reading and math skills because they use, calibrate, and manipulate machinery.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Slaughterers and meat packers must pay close attention to what they are doing to avoid injuring themselves and wasting products.

Coordination. Hand–eye coordination is needed for the timely and safe preparation of products.

Good eyesight. Slaughterers and meat packers must be able to see small portions of fat, bone, or cartilage to remove them.

Physical stamina. Slaughterers and meat packers must be able to stand and work on the production line for 8 or more hours during a shift.

Physical strength. Slaughterers and meat packers must be able to lift and move large portions of meat while working in the slaughtering yard or processing facility.

Teamwork. Slaughterers and meat packers must work as a team both in the yard and on the line to ensure that the operation runs smoothly. They are often closely supported by managerial staff.


Slaughterers and meat packers may be certified by an appropriate government agency to show that they know how to process meat hygienically.

Specialized workers, including butchers who follow religious guidelines for food preparation, may be required to go through a lengthy apprenticeship or certification process or both before becoming completely qualified and endorsed by their organization to do their duties.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition