Abattoir worker

What they do

Abattoir workers manage animals before and during the slaughtering process. They remove hides and internal organs and split the carcasses using saws. They trim, bone and slice carcasses so they are ready for sale or further processing. They may package meat products and they may also be involved with processing hides and by-products, as well as loading meat into trucks.

Working conditions

An abattoir worker would normally work 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday, but in large operations they may work shifts. They usually have to stand up all day and their clothing and hands may become soiled with animal blood and fat. They need to maintain high levels of hygiene. The working conditions are usually kept clean, well-lit and ventilated. They usually wear protective clothing.

Tools and technologies

Abattoir workers need to be proficient with tools, such as knives and saws that are associated with the profession. They may also need to use various equipment used for processing meat and by-products from carcasses. They may also need to be able to use a stunner (to help prepare the animal for slaughtering).

How do I become one?

Education and training

It is possible to work as an abattoir worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in meat processing or a related area.

Certificate II in Meat Processing (Abattoirs), Certificate III in Meat Processing (Boning Room) and Certificate III in Meat Processing (Slaughtering) are available at Western Australian registered training organisations. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

You can also undertake a traineeship in meat processing (abattoirs) (level 2), meat processing (boning) (level 3), or meat processing (slaughtering) (level 3). The traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete. The meat processing (abattoirs) (level 2) traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.