Meat packers are responsible for wrapping, grinding and packing meat. They occasionally have to shave or wash animal meat before packing, inspect meat or meat products, use hand or power tools and grind meat to prepare sausages, luncheon meats and other types of meat products.
The duties required of meat packers include loading materials and products into package-processing equipment, measuring, weighing and counting product materials, moving or lifting heavy objects, loading, unloading or stacking products or materials, and maintaining a clean and safe work area. They are also responsible for sorting manufacturing materials or products, operating packaging machine equipment, recording product, packaging and order information on forms and records.
The skills required to become a meat packer include equipment selection skills, operation and control skills, reading comprehension skills and active listening skills. Equipment selection skills are useful when choosing which tools are best for each task of the meat-packing process. Controlling operations of equipment and tools is much easier with operation and control skills. Reading comprehension skills are needed to understand written instructions. Active listening skills are needed to give full attention to what other people say and to fully understand them. Meat packers should have strength to lift, pull, push or carry heavy objects or do the packing of the meat. Arm and hand steadiness is also an important skill.
Meat packers must have knowledge of biology of plant and animal organisms, public safety and security, food production, production and processing, and of the machines used to pack the meat. They must have knowledge of relevant equipment, procedures, policies and strategies used to comply with local, state or national security operations to protect people, data and property. They must know and comply with the techniques used to store and handle meat products. Meat packers must also know how to handle raw materials.
Meat packers may work early shifts and long days, working more than 50 hours per week. Meat packers should have at least a high school diploma. Most of the training occurs on the job; however, some trade schools offer courses in meat packing and processing work. Work in a meat packing plant can be dangerous, so it is important to use caution when working. Meat packers have to endure tough working conditions, such as intense heat, extreme cold, strong odors and slippery floors. Wearing nonslip shoes is often required.
As of May 2014, meat packers made an average annual salary of $25,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.