Each day in poultry processing plants, processors prepare meat from turkeys, chicken and other types of birds. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts no growth in the field between 2012 and 2022.
Poultry processors slaughter birds and then remove the feathers, bones and tissues that are not sold as food. While some parts of the process are performed by machines, most of the work completed by poultry processors must be done by hand, explains the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Poultry processors often work along assembly lines, performing one or two steps in the preparation process. Processors also monitor the machinery used to perform some of the tasks, ensuring that it functions properly.
Poultry processors work in cold, damp conditions to prevent the meat from spoiling. Because processors work with knives and sharp machinery, there is a risk of accidental injuries, ranging from minor cuts to finger or limb amputations.
Poultry processing work requires good personal hygiene and adherence to local, state and federal health codes. Manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and the ability to stand for long periods of time also are important to the work of poultry processors.
Employers typically have no specific education requirements for poultry processors and provide on-the-job training to new workers. To advance into supervisory positions, processors usually are required to have an associate or bachelor's degree in agricultural science or food processing.
In 2012, the median annual salary for food and tobacco processors was $25,780, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.