Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for butchers are good. Demand for workers is increasing and it should relatively easy to find work. The income for butchers is average.

How to become a butcher

What they do

Butchers select, cut, prepare and sell meat. Some work in independent butcher shops, while others work in supermarkets.

Their tasks may include:

  • preparing meat for sale by removing bones, trimming fat and cutting, mincing and grinding meat to shape and size for display or as ordered
  • preparing crumbed cuts of meat, and marinating, seasoning and curing special cuts
  • selecting and preparing meat to produce smallgoods
  • operating machines to grind, mix, mince and tenderise meat
  • making seasonings and pickles by mixing spices, salt and other ingredients
  • operating sausage filling machines, smoking chambers, and cooking kettles and vats
  • advising customers on the suitability and uses of cuts of meat
  • assisting in menu planning and scheduling, and in estimating food production costs.


A National Certificate in Meat Retail Butchery is needed to become a qualified butcher. This certificate exists at Levels 2, 3 and 4. It is managed by Competenz, and achieved by completing an apprenticeship.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Cost of study

National Certificate in Meat Retail Butchery (Level 3, apprenticeship)
$6,000 over three and a half years

Sometimes, employers will cover some or all of the costs of an apprenticeship. Average costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for butchers is Competenz. They arrange apprenticeships nationwide.


Income and employment prospects


The annual income for butchers is estimated to be around $42,500. Inexperienced butchers and new apprentices are likely to start out on the minimum or training wage.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Butchers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
3,666 3,426 4,110 4,650
  -1.0% 3.1% 2.1%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Food Trades Workers”.

The number of butchers in employment fell by almost 1% per year from 2006 to 2013. Within the broader category of food trades workers, we project an increase in employment up to 2028. 

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Butchers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Where to find job vacancies

Since 2013, the number of online job vacancies for ‘Butchers and Smallgoods Makers’ has grown at a faster rate than the average for all vacancies. This indicates that demand for butchers has grown faster than the average for all occupations over the same period.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Butcher vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

Experienced butchers can become supervisors or managers at a butcher shop, or in the butchery section of a supermarket. Some also go on to establish their own businesses. Competenz has an overview of career opportunities for butchers.

Competenz, career path:

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level butchers.

  • Baker
  • Butcher's Assistant
  • Chef
  • Food Factory Worker
  • Meat Inspector
  • Meat Process Worker
  • Meat Retailer
  • Smallgoods Maker

Other information


More information on butchers is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand: 
Just the Job video clip: A Career in the Retail Meat Industry
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Meat Processing


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of butchers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

3512 – Butchers and Smallgoods Makers