There are no formal educational requirements for butchers and many learn on the job. Most employers prefer workers who have at least high school or some postsecondary training. There are specific courses offered in some countries, and most countries have regulations that must be followed in the meat cutting industry. In Canada there are Retail Meat Cutting certificate programs, and Meat Management programs. In the U.S. certification agencies set certain standards that must be met. A butcher with postsecondary education such as a bachelor or master's degree can advance into management and administration roles. Related education is also helpful, for example, a degree in dairy science. There are also related degree programs that allow the transfer of skills into other occupations, such as meat merchandising or marketing.
Learning through experience can involve a short period or a longer one, depending on the type of job being done. Butchers often start out as meat cutters in a processing facility and advance to greater skill levels. Training as a retail butcher can take one or two years to learn the skills needed. Butchers often enter the occupation after becoming experienced in a related one, such as a line worker.
Continuing education is also important in this profession, as meat cutters need to learn new ways of managing evolving meat preferences and food trends. Ongoing scientific knowledge regarding food-borne pathogens and contaminants make these types of seminars and training courses very important.
Butchers may also specialize. Certain religious groups require their meat cut to specific standards, and workers in this field may require a lengthy apprenticeship and certification process.
Among the skills required to be a butcher:
understanding of good hygiene practices
good vision and depth perception
concentration and the ability to pay close attention to tasks
good health - a physical exam may be an employment prerequisite
stamina and strength to stand for long hours and physically work with heavy pieces of meat
ability to work independently and in a team
able to communicate with customers, supervisors, and coworkers