Online Schools for Aspiring Butchers: How to Choose

Aspiring butchers won't have any luck finding an online school. Meat cutting programs require hands-on training that cannot be achieved online. However, on-campus programs can be found at some community or technical colleges. Students looking at meat cutting programs will need to determine their career goals before choosing a school.

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How to Select a Butcher School

Considerations

  • Career goals
  • Transfer opportunities

Career Goals

Students should be clear on what sort of position they ultimately want in the food industry before choosing a meat-cutting school. Certificates of completion in meat-cutting are ideal for students who wish to work in a grocery meat department or butcher shop; however, a certificate program in meat merchandising would be more appropriate for those who wish to find positions as buyers or supervisors. Associate degrees provide additional leverage with potential employers.

Transfer Opportunities

The highest award granted by meat cutting programs is an associate degree. Students who want to earn a bachelor's degree in agriculture or food safety may want to research schools offering transferrable associate degrees in meat cutting.

List of Butcher Programs

Apprentice Meat Cutter Certificate

A certificate program for apprentice meat cutters teaches students how to maintain and utilize knives, meat saws, meat grinders, and other hand and power tools associated with the meat cutting profession. Students also learn how to identify, cut and display retail meat, arrange display cases and fill customer orders. Program requirements are approximately 830 hours. Coursework includes:

  • Essentials of meat cutting
  • Meat cutting safety
  • Soft skills for meat cutting professionals

Professional Retail Meat Cutting Certificate

A certificate in retail meat cutting requires more than 1,100 hours of coursework and can be completed in less than one year. Core courses may include knife care, cutting equipment, USDA inspection, sanitation and grading, display and packaging, and workplace relations. Students also learn about:

  • Cured and smoked meats
  • Pork wholesale and retail
  • Beef wholesale and retail
  • Fish and seafood
  • Lamb and poultry

Meat Merchandising Certificate

A program in meat merchandising teaches students about the various cuts of beef, pork, lamb and poultry. The curriculum takes three semesters to complete and covers:

  • Meat identification
  • Preparation of cuts
  • Pricing and marketing techniques
  • Catering

Meat Processing and Food Safety Certificate

A certificate program in meat processing and food safety requires approximately 33 credit hours to complete and is designed for students who are seeking immediate employment. Courses include:

  • Meat processing and merchandising
  • Livestock processing
  • Food safety
  • Livestock and carcass evaluation
  • Specialty meats

Associate of Applied Science in Meat Processing and Food Safety

An associate degree program in meat processing and food safety program is about 64 credit hours. Coursework is nearly identical to the coursework of the certificate program, with the addition of general education requirements in:

  • Social sciences
  • History
  • Composition
  • Foreign language
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