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Butcher or smallgoods maker

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Summary of occupation

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.

ANZSCO description: Selects, cuts, trims, prepares and arranges meat for sale or supply, operates meat or smallgoods processing machines, or manages the processes in the production of smallgoods.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Retail Butcher, Wholesale Butcher
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A butcher needs:

  • good communication and customer service skills
  • to maintain a high level of hygiene
  • physical strength and stamina
  • to be able to work with animal carcasses
  • good hand-eye coordination.
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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.

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Salary details

​On average, butchers and smallgoods makers 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. 

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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.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a butcher, you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The general butcher apprenticeship takes 36 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship. ​

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.

Related apprenticeships

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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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Butcher Video Butcher Occupation

Butchers prepare and sell meat and meat products, either directly to the public, or to restaurants and supermarkets.

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