Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale (NOC 6331)

About this job

Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers prepare standard cuts of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish for sale in various food establishments.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work in supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher shops, fish stores and in fish and meat wholesale plants
  • may also be self-employed
  • must be able to work with machinery in a challenging environment
  • have product knowledge, as well as familiarity with food handling, food safety, food preparation and presentation
  • have good interpersonal skills since they often work with the public

Butchers who are supervisors or heads of departments are included in this group.

Common job titles
  • butcher - deli / grocery / supermarket
  • fishmonger, retail or wholesale
  • head butcher, retail or wholesale
  • meat cutter / meat portion cutter
  • butcher - deli / grocery / supermarket
  • fishmonger, retail or wholesale
  • head butcher, retail or wholesale
  • meat cutter / meat portion cutter

Duties

Butchers and meat cutters, wholesale and retail, perform some or all of the following duties:

  • cut, trim and prepare standard cuts of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish according to customer orders
  • grind meats and slice cooked meats using power grinders and slicing machines
  • prepare displays of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish
  • shape, lace and tie roasts and other meats, poultry or fish
  • may wrap prepared meats, poultry, fish and shellfish
  • manage inventory and keep records of sales
  • decide amount, product line and freshness of products according to company needs
  • make sure food storage conditions are adequate
  • may supervise other butchers, meat cutters or fishmongers

Work environment

In larger retail outlets, butchers and meat cutters generally work in large rooms with power machines and conveyors. In many other retail markets, butchers and meat cutters work with little or no equipment, cut very little meat and mainly handle "retail-ready" cuts of meat.

These workers are typically less experienced and paid lower wages.

In smaller retail markets, butchers tend to work behind the meat counter or in refrigerated rooms to prevent meat spoilage. Cold temperatures combined with standing for long periods can be tiring.

Butchers and meat cutters are also at risk of injuries caused by working with knives, cleavers and various power tools, so they must pay attention to detail and work with care. The repetitive nature of the work can lead to muscle pain and/or repetitive stress disorders.

Some larger commercial employers have adjusted employee workloads or redesigned tasks and tools in order to create a safer and healthier work environment.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Individuals entering this occupation typically find employment in entry-level positions (i.e., clean-up or delivery person) in a large organization. If these employees prove reliable and are good with customers, they can be considered for an apprenticeship.

Qualified butchers and meat cutters who have experience may progress to supervisory positions in large organizations, including department managers, in-store supervisors, operations managers or company managers. It is also possible to undertake specialty consulting, become the owner-operator of a smaller store or custom meat operation, or work as a meat inspector in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Additional resources