Butcher or smallgoods maker

What they do

Butchers prepare and sell meat and meat products, either directly to the public, or to restaurants and supermarkets. They cut the meat into sizes small enough for individual sale, and may also remove bones if necessary. They place the meat onto trays for display and sale, and may also package meat for retail sale. They advise customers on the type of meat they sell, and may make recommendations about cooking or preparing their products. Some butchers also marinate, cure and smoke meat, and make sausages and other forms of smallgoods. Nowadays, most butchers stock native game such as kangaroo or emu meat.

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.