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Abattoir worker

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Summary of occupation

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.

ANZSCO description: Trims and cuts meat from bones, sides and carcasses.
Alternative names: Abattoir Worker, Meat Slicer and Boner, Slaughterer
Specialisations: Meat Trimmer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An Abattoir worker needs:

  • good hand-eye coordination
  • to enjoy manual and practical work
  • to be physically fit
  • to be able to work safely.
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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.

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Salary details

On average, abattoir workers, classified under meat boners and slicers, or slaughterers, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an abattoir worker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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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).

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as an abattoir worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.

​You can also complete one of the following traineeships: meat processing (abattoirs), meat processing (boning) or meat processing (slaughtering). These traineeships take 12 to 24 months to complete. The meat processing (abattoirs) traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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