Become a Meat Manager: Career Guide

Oct 20, 2021

Find out how to become a meat manager. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in food service.

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Should I Become a Meat Manager?

Meat managers are responsible for the daily operations of a meat department. At some places of employment, like supermarkets, this can include evening, weekend, and holiday shifts. Common duties for this food processing occupation include supervising staff members, managing inventory, following proper food safety procedures, and grinding meat. Excellent customer service skills are required for managers who regularly interact with customers.

Because they routinely lift heavy items, meat managers must be in good physical condition. They also spend much of their day on their feet and work in cold conditions due to the refrigeration needed to keep meat fresh. Exposure to sharp cutting tools and instruments means meat managers need to take precautions and use protective gear.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent is preferred; bachelor's degree can benefit managers
Degree Field Meat marketing, meat merchandising or a related program
Licensure and Certification Certification may be required in some states for some positions
Experience 1-2 years of experience or several years as an apprentice may be required
Key Skills Ability to concentrate and operate meat processing and carving tools with skill; customer service and listening skills are important, as is physical stamina
Salary (2020) $51,083 (median annual salary for meat managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (February 2020)

Step 1: Join a Training Program

Generally, applicants with a high school diploma, good manual dexterity, and the ability to lift heavy loads may be eligible for entry-level positions in retail butcher shops or meat packing complexes. Most employers provide on-the-job training, which can last several months or even up to two years for certain tasks. Some states require meat managers to obtain a food handler's permit, or food worker card, before seeking employment. Participating in a training course and passing an examination are the typical requirements for obtaining a permit or worker card.

Employers may offer butcher or meat cutter apprenticeships, which supplement job training with classroom education. Apprenticeships typically are arranged through the Joint Apprenticeship Council of a meat processing company or union. Individuals can approach their local union branch or their state's labor or industrial relations department to inquire about apprenticeships.

Success Tip

  • Study for the food handler's exam. Individuals who reside in a state that requires a food handler's permit can obtain a study guide through their local health department.

Step 2: Advance to a Journeyman or Supervisor Position

Apprentice butchers and meat cutters generally progress to journey-level status after two years of experience. Further experience as a team leader may increase opportunities for advancement to a manager position.

Employers may consider qualifying experience, including instructing co-workers in all cutting procedures, managing inventory and, in the case of retail butchers, communicating successfully with customers. Familiarity with food safety standards, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, may be expected of management applicants.

Success Tip

  • Gain experience as an assistant manager. Many employers want to hire meat managers who have experience as assistant managers. Aspiring meat managers could work toward these types of promotions that might demand responsibility over the meat department.

Step 3: Become a Manager

Professionals with requisite experience could advance to such positions as department manager or production manager. Meat managers can expect to take on more administrative duties, including maintaining standards compliance, employee evaluation, merchandising, and expense reports.

Step 4: Continue Education

Meat managers considering further advancement to upper-level management positions can build on their experience by completing a food science bachelor's degree program. Common topics covered in these programs include food laws and regulations, dairy products processing, quality control, and communication. Related fields of study include meat marketing or meat merchandising. Job options for graduates may include meat applications manager, operations manager, and quality assurance manager.

Success Tip

  • Complete an internship. Students enrolled in a food science bachelor's degree program can benefit from participating in an internship experience. Under the guidance of an instructor, students will be able to demonstrate skills they have learned in the classroom.

Meat managers typically hold at least a high school diploma, although a bachelor's degree in a relevant field can help in career advancement, and jobs may also require a food handler's permit. On-the-job training or apprenticeships may be available.

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