Back to Careers » Full Career Details
The work of a Butcher can be divided into two main areas - retail and wholesale. The Retail Butcher works in a traditional Butchers Shop or in a Meat Department in a supermarket. Here the retail butcher stores, displays and cuts up meat for sale to customers.
The Retail Butcher cuts up and prepares animal carcasses for retail sales. The range of duties includes preparing, displaying, weighing and wrapping cuts of meat for sale. The Retail Butcher also handles cash and serves at the counter. The Retail Butcher may manufacture sausage and burger type products and also prepare cured meat and marinated products. He/she must have a thorough knowledge about cuts of meat in order to advise customers. The retail butcher must also clean equipment and working areas regularly and sharpen knives and other tools.
The Butcher works under the very strict legal requirements of:
- Food Hygiene and Safety Legislation
- Health and Safety in the Workplace
- Consumer Information
- Sale of Goods and Supply of Services
- Labelling legislation
- Origin and Traceability
Personal Qualities and Skills
Those wishing to enter this trade must fulfil the requirements of the Food Hygiene Regulations regarding diseases. A butcher must maintain a high standard of personal hygiene. This is a legal requirement.
As a butcher, you need to be physically fit to cope with long periods of standing and have the ability to lift heavy weights. Good communication skills and detailed product knowledge are also essential. A steady hand and common sense are needed for handling cutting equipment.
Pay and Opportunities
Employment in this area is provided by independent retailers, countrywide chains of butchers, local food markets, and supermarkets. Many butchers are self-employed but experience and investment capital is essential for this. Butchers can also work in meat inspection. Specific careers in the food sector are covered by agreements made by Joint Labour Committees (JLCs). The purpose of Joint Labour Committees is to regulate conditions of employment and set minimum rates of pay for employees in these sectors of employment. Where there is no agreement in place the minimum wage often still pertains (see www.employmentrights.ie or www.citizensinformation.ie for more information). This rises from EUR 25k per year to EUR 30k a year. Experienced established butchers will earn more than this.
Entry Routes and Training
The career path to becoming a qualified butcher is as follows:
- Secure an apprenticeship with a company. The apprentice will spend three/four years in training with his/her employer during which time instruction in all the skills required to become a qualified butcher will be given.
- Attend a Technical Institute for off the job training.
Having completed the relevant courses and passed the examinations the apprentice is awarded the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland (ACBI) Diploma.
All food workers must have completed both Food Hygiene and HACCP courses to be allowed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to engage in food work.
A good general education is necessary. Junior or Leaving Certificate is an advantage.
There is no formal upper age limit for entry into this occupation. Mature persons with an interest in Butchery could find fulfilment in this career.
Contact your local Intreo Centre or Employment Services office for Career Guidance, planning and support that will help you make informed decisions about the best career direction for you
Labour Market Information
Qualifax: Ireland’s National Learners’ Database
Back to top