How to become a butcher

The traditional way to become a butcher or journeyman meat cutter is to complete an apprenticeship program.

Looking to become a butcher?  Here are five places to check.

The traditional way to become a butcher is to apprentice from 3 to 7 years.  And yes, I know of companies that require a seven-year commitment to become a butcher. In that type of busy work environment, it is difficult to gain extensive meat knowledge in an organized manner from the journeyman meat cutters.  Apprenticeship programs are limited, so this type of opportunity is hard to find in the meat industry. Some companies have turned back to this type of in-house training program. The size of many of these businesses will dictate the kind of job openings available. Be prepared to stand in a cold room, lift heavy sections of meat, and spend much time making the same cut all day long.  If you can not find an apprenticeship program, here are a few more ways to take a stab at meat cutting.

Local Grocery Store

Check with your local grocery store about openings in the meat department. While supermarket meat cutters typically do not cut whole sides or large primal, they offer plenty of time on the block cutting, portioning, trimming steaks, and roasts. This job will help you develop muscle memory to build your meat-cutting skills. Cutting meat at the local grocery store is also an excellent opportunity to learn cut names and recognize them. 

Meat Processor - steak cutters

Search for meat processing companies. Meat processing companies can be very different; it all depends on their business model.

  1. Steak cutters - these types of businesses cut subprimals into portioned steaks sold to large restaurant groups. You will learn how to cut steaks from subprimals to trim steak to maximize yield, and you will learn to portion a steak by weight accurately. Steak cutting is an excellent opportunity to hone your knife skills. 
  2. Meat processors - these types of businesses cut large primals into subprimals and subprimals into individual muscles and possibly retail cuts.
  3. Slaughterhouse/Meat processors- these types of businesses are responsible for humanely processing animals into meat. There are many job openings at these facilities, from slaughter to breaking sides into primals and cutting into consumer-ready retail cuts for grocery and restaurants.

Here are other ways to learn the art of butchery

  • Many Land Grant University's have animal science programs which include classes on meat processing and meat cutting. 
  • Culinary Schools offer a meat course as part of their curriculum, but they do not spend hours honing their skills due to time constraints and cost. 
  • Meat Cutting Schools do exist, but not many. Most likely you will need to relocate to attend a program, and they are expensive.

Range® has taken a different approach to learning the art of butchery. I guess you can say we have modernized the trade through online learning.


Traditional high-level butchery education is expensive and time-consuming. That’s why we developed Range® Meat Academy, a comprehensive online meat school. We do not require you to purchase a side of beef to practice cutting skills. Instead, we teach you extensive and valuable knowledge about cutting, cut identification, merchandising, and selling meat.  Our curriculum is comprehensive. Our goal at Range® Meat Academy online is to provide you with all the information up front, and at your own pace!  When you walk into a job interview with a Range® Meat Clerk or Range® Meat Cutter certificate, you will be ready to land the job and work with a journeyman to hone your skills. Your path to becoming a knowledgeable and skilled meat cutter has begun. 

Our curriculum focuses on four major proteins: beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. With videos, cut charts, competency badges, study aids, quizzes, certificates, and a personal web-portal, Range® Meat Academy online is appealing and entertaining.  Above all, our robust and interactive online courses offer a convenient, flexible, and efficient training method.