Slaughterers And Meatpackers

Slaughterers and meatpackers slaughter animals such as sheep, cattle, and hogs. They divide the carcasses into cuts of various sizes to be distributed to either wholesale or retail businesses. Most often they work on assembly lines using dangerous equipment like bandsaws, cleavers, and other cutting tools.

Job Skills

Certain basic skills are required of slaughterers and meatpackers. They need to possess good coordination and depth perception, adequate physical strength, and the ability to distinguish between colors. Depending on the State in which they work, a health certificate may be required as well.


In 2002, slaughterers and meatpackers earned a median annual salary of $17,650. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $15,350, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $26,270. The median annual salary was $25,320 in the animal slaughtering and processing industry, where the highest number of food processing workers are employed.

Training and Education

Minimal to no training is required to obtain a job as a slaughterer or meatpacker. Most employees are trained on the job. Depending on the employer, this training can be formal or informal. Training begins with the more elementary techniques, such as basic cutting and bone removal, and progresses to more advance skills, such as dividing carcasses and curing meat. Many employers have begun to combat the rising concern about meat safety by offering more employee training on the subject.


Out of the nearly 757,000 food processing jobs in 2002, about 128,000 people were employed as slaughterers and meatpackers.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of fast food cooks is expected to increase close to the average rate. A rising demand for retail-ready meat that is prepared at the processing level will ensure steady growth for these occupations.

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