Butcher or smallgoods maker

What they do

Butchers and smallgoods makers select, cut, prepare and arrange meats for sale and supply. They may advise customers on the suitability and uses of cuts of meat, as well as assist in menu planning and scheduling. They may need to operate machines to grind, mix and mince meat, as well as operate sausage filling machine, smoking chambers and cooking vats.

Butchers and smallgoods makers prepare crumbed cuts of meat, and marinate, season and cure special cuts. They may also make a variety of seasonings and marinades.

Working conditions

Butchers work in supermarkets, independent shops/outlets, or in boning or slicing rooms. Their work can be untidy, especially in the latter environment, as they are exposed to animal blood. They often work long hours with early morning starts. Their work requires good customer service skills as they regularly come into contact with customers.

Tools and technologies

Butchers use a variety of knives including cleavers, carving knives and filleting knives. They also use hand tools and power equipment including mincers, mixers and bandsaws to chop, crush and grind meat. They may also use computer-operated machinery, and may need to know how to use a cash register or EFTPOS machine.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a butcher, you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in general butcher.

The general butcher apprenticeship usually takes 36 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

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.