Are you passionate about great food? Are you keen to learn some new skills? If so then, now could be the prime time to become a Butcher. If you think that you could make the cut, then keep reading for tips on how to get started…
What do they do?
Tying a roast, smoking and curing meat and making sausages – a skilled Butcher can do it all. Butchers are professional people who cut and prepare different types of meat, so it can be sold to customers. This may sound simple, but a lot of skill and knowledge can go into producing the perfect cut of meat.
Butchers often convert large pieces of meat (sometimes even a whole animal) into retail-ready portions, whilst considering how each cut of meat will be utilised by customers. They do this by calling on knowledge of animal physiology and cooking, and will not only cut and prepare meat, but will often provide tips and advice to customers on how best to cook the meat they’re interested in buying. This could be anything from seasoning to cooking times, through to suggesting accompaniments. This additional level of customer service is one of the main reasons why some people prefer to go to a Butcher, instead of buying prepackaged meat.
What skills do I need?
The right person will:
- Not be squeamish or afraid of getting hands-on with raw meat.
- Have good hand-eye coordination, as you’ll be working with a lot of very sharp knives and tools.
- Have a passion for great food (and it can help if you have a passion for cooking)
- Want to provide great quality customer service.
- Have great attention to detail – cutting meat can be a fiddly process and you’ll need to know exactly where to make cuts in the meat and which unwanted pieces (like bones) to remove from where.
- Reasonable maths skills, for weighing and pricing meat. You may also need to help customers work out how much meat they need for the number of people they are planning to cook for, or for calculating how long to cook a specific cut of meat for – based on its size.
What will I love about the job?
- Building relationships with customers, who will trust you to provide them with a quality product, and potentially give advice on how to cook it. Some customers may be hosting Christmas dinner or other important occasions where the meat is the centrepiece of the meal, and your service could contribute towards making it all run smoothly.
- Getting hands-on. If you’re someone who doesn’t fancy a 9-5 desk job and would enjoy learning some practical skills then this could be an ideal role for you.
What are the challenges?
The job can be very physical and conditions aren’t always comfortable. You’ll be on your feet all day and could be required to move and cut heavy pieces of meat. It’s also very likely that you’ll find yourself working with frozen produce at times and moving in and out of cold rooms (walk-in fridges), so it’s probably not a role for you if you don’t like the cold.
How much will I earn?
As a Butcher, you could earn anywhere between £14,500 and £30,000 depending on experience.
Are there opportunities to progress?
Once you’ve gained sufficient experience as a Butcher, there are a number or areas you may decide to move into, including:
- managerial or supervisory roles
- checking the quality and standard of meat in abattoirs and meat plants as part of the Food Standards Agency
- manufacturing and wholesaling
How do I get started?
There isn’t a set route to becoming a Butcher, but you’ll usually apply for a job as a trainee. Many employers will take on individuals with little or no experience as long as they have a can-do attitude and a desire to provide great quality customer service.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then Booker Group are a leading market wholesaler who are working with Rest Less to recruit Skilled Butchers of all ages. They also take on Butchery trainees in certain areas, where they provide all necessary training on the job.
Hear first-hand from Butchery Manager, Jamie, what it’s like to work for Booker Group
Video provided by Rest Less client, Booker Group.
Some employers may prefer you to have a Level 2 Award in Food Safety for Retail (or Catering or Manufacturing) Certificate before you apply, which can be taken as a short distance-learning course. New Skills Academy offer a range of courses – including a CPD certified Level 2 course, which takes 3 hours and will teach you all the basics of food hygiene and safety.