Meat factory worker, abattoir worker, slaughterhouse worker
Meat process workers produce meat products for the food manufacturing, catering and food retail industries.
Salary range: £13,500 to £21,000
How to become a meat process worker
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include:
- Level 2 Certificate for Proficiency in Meat and Poultry Industry Skills
- Level 3 Certificate or Diploma for Proficiency in Meat and Poultry Industry Skills
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can do an abattoir worker intermediate apprenticeship, or a food and drink process operator intermediate or advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You do not need any particular qualifications to apply directly for this job. Some employers may prefer you to have some GCSEs at grades 9 to 2 (A* to E).
You may have an advantage if you’ve got experience of using a forklift truck, though this is not essential.
You can find out more about careers in food production from the Food and Drink Training and Education Council.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- persistence and determination
- knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
- thinking and reasoning skills
- knowledge of food production methods
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
To work as a slaughterman or slaughterwoman you must be licensed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and aged 18 or over.
For production line work, you need to be at least 16.
You might need a driving licence if your job includes delivery duties.
What you’ll do
You may work in:
- abattoirs – as a slaughterman or slaughterwoman, humanely killing and preparing livestock
- wholesale meat factories – cutting, de-boning and preparing carcasses before they are sold to retailers
- butcheries – specialising in preparing meat in line with instructions from caterers
- meat or poultry processing plants – producing and packing products for the retail and catering industries
Depending on where you work, you may use knives and other equipment, like a band saw, to cut and prepare carcasses. You may also have some delivery duties.
You could work at an abattoir or in a factory.
Your working environment may be cold and physically demanding.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
You could become a shift supervisor or manager on the production line, or in an area like quality control, product development or food marketing.
With further experience you could train to become a meat hygiene inspector.