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How Do I Become a Meat Packer?

By Patrick Lynch
Updated May 17, 2024
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Even though it is not necessary to have a high school diploma in order to become a meat packer, most companies prefer to hire an applicant who possesses this qualification. Most skills learned by a meat packer are gained by working with a more experienced partner. A meat packer must know how to use tools safely and practice proper hygiene. The job involves carving and trimming meat, working on an assembly line, and dealing with customer orders. meat packers usually work in meat processing plants, though more lucrative jobs at other kinds of companies are available.

Most meat packing companies prefer their workers to have a high school diploma. This should not be the limit of a meat packer’s educational aims, however. There are a number of formal training courses available at technical or vocational schools.

Additional skills must be acquired on the job. Beginner meat packers are paired with experienced employees who can guide the newcomer and teach the necessary skills. Employers do not ask new employees to perform complex tasks. Instead, new meat packers are given menial duties until they have enough experience to move to jobs that require more skill.

An individual who wants to become a meat packer needs to learn basic health and safety practices regarding the use of tools and equipment. Novice meat packers are expected to attend seminars that teach safety and hygiene measures. If employees need additional training, it is provided to them as they continue with their careers.

When looking to become a meat packer, be prepared for the various tasks involved in the job. These include preparing meat from animals such as pigs, cows, and sheep. A meat packer must know how to correctly store products and how to safely use the tools for cutting and trimming the meat. Communication skills are also a must, as meat packers must fulfill the orders of customers.

A major part of a meat packer’s job is to pack the produce into the correctly labeled boxes. Prior to this, he must use tools such as knives, trimmers, and cleavers to cut the meat. Those looking to become a meat packer must be willing to work on an assembly line where one specific task is assigned. This can be a monotonous job and may require standing up all day with few breaks. Meat packers generally work in commercial meat processing plants, though there are jobs available in private slaughterhouses.

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Discussion Comments

By truman12 — On Aug 04, 2011

I've worked as a meat packer and I can say with confidence that the number one skill you can have is being good with a knife. This makes the work faster, safer and leads to better cuts of meat.

I have seen guys get into this job who have no idea what they are doing with a knife. Half the time they would end up mangling the meat and a lot of them ended up hurt on the job.

You have to know what kind of knives to use for what job, how to manipulate the knife, how to keep it sharp and clean and how to work fast. Anyone looking to break into this industry will have a serious leg up if they can acquire some knife skills before starting.

By jonrss — On Aug 03, 2011

A number of meat packers work right at the point of slaughter in the slaughterhouses themselves. For these workers I think the most important skill to have is an understanding of how to treat animals humanely.

Any one who has paid any attention to this issues knows that there are all kinds of cruel, unsafe and unsanitary practices that go on all the time in slaughterhouses. When you take the nature of the work and combine it with the often shoddy way that it is practiced it begins to seem like a really shady industry.

I would hope that anyone who is trying to get into this kind of work would have a respect for the animals and would carry out their job in the most efficient and painless way possible. That is the least we can do to respect the sacrifice the animal has made for us

By backdraft — On Aug 02, 2011

I would think that the biggest skill a meat packer would need to have is a strong stomach. These guys have to butcher animals and put knife to flesh all day long. I would think that that kind of work is not for the faint of heart.

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