Journeyman Meat Cutters and Butchers: What's the Difference? | Grand Peaks Prime Meats Skip to main content

Journeyman Meat Cutters and Butchers: What's the Difference?

If you’ve ever picked up some nice steaks for a barbecue or baby back ribs for a party, you may have gotten it from a butcher. The meat cutting and butchery industries have been around for thousands of years. Scientists have found evidence of the butchery profession existing for centuries. 

Butchers began forming guilds in the middle ages to regulate the profession and ensure that those practicing butchery followed certain standards. While some aspects about the profession have changed throughout the centuries, much has remained the same. Butchers and meat cutters continue to provide high-quality meat to customers all over the world.

Within the industry, there are both butchers and journeyman meat cutters. Many people get these two titles mixed up, but they are not the same. The main difference is skill level. People hoping to enter the butcher industry often begin as apprentices and then become journeymen. When the journeyman becomes skilled enough, they advance to the status of a butcher. 

Journeyman Meat Cutters

A journeyman meat cutter works in the butcher industry but is not usually an expert in all aspects of meat cutting. Journeyman meat cutters usually specialize in one type of meat cutting. Meat cutters often deal with primal cuts, which means the meat has already been broken into smaller parts when they receive it. 

A meat cutter could specialize in cutting any type of primal cut. When cutting beef, meat cutters can specialize in chuck, rib, loin, or any of the other ten main cuts of beef. They could also specialize in the front quarter or hindquarter. 

Journey meat cutters are usually responsible for trimming and weighing the meat. They’ll also package the meat, so it’s ready for customers. 

Journeyman meat cutters are more advanced than apprentices but not as skilled as butchers. Many meat cutters continue to learn more about the trade until they reach the level of a master butcher. 


A butcher is someone who cuts and prepares meat for customers. Butchers have to know a variety of cutting skills and have extensive knowledge of multiple types and cuts of meat. Butchers often learn these skills through apprenticeship or internships, although there are also certification programs in many regions. Many butchers are former meat cutters who learned more skills and advanced to the level of a butcher. 

Centuries ago, butchers brought their live animals to marketplaces and slaughtered and cut the meat for customers on the spot. Today, this type of butchery is highly unusual. 

One of the most important skills of a butcher is understanding safety protocols and minimizing the risk of disease in the meat they provide to customers. They learn how to safely prepare meat to preserve and prevent dangerous bacteria from spoiling the meat. 

Sometimes butchers also go through training in business management. This is common if the butcher plans to run their own shop. They learn how to price their products and how to best provide for their customers. 

Benefits of Shopping With A Butcher

Years ago, visiting a butcher was the only way to get meat. Now, you can visit a grocery store or supermarket and grab some pre-packaged meat without ever talking to an expert. While many people are used to this type of meat purchasing, it’s nowhere near as beneficial as speaking with a butcher. Here’s why you should always discuss your purchase with a butcher when you buy meat: 


When you shop with a butcher, you can ask an endless amount of questions to ensure you get the right type of meat for your occasion. Your butcher can tell you about the differences between each cut of meat and advise you as you choose. 

Be sure to ask questions and let your butcher know your goals. If you’re trying to find a budget option, the butcher can point you to the meat that will give you the best bang for your buck. If you’re buying meat for a special occasion, the butcher can help you pick out the highest quality meat possible. The more you communicate with the butcher, the more they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. 

Often, the butcher will be able to give you tips on how to cook the types of meat you buy, as well. Butchers likely have experience with a variety of styles for cooking meats. Don’t be afraid to have a lengthy conversation while you’re buying meat. It’s best to be an informed buyer and go home feeling happy and confident with your purchase. 


When you buy pre-packaged meat from the grocery store, you can't get a specific amount measured for your dinner or event. Often this means you end up buying more meat than you need, and some goes to waste. If you don’t buy too much, you may try to make a small amount of meat stretch, and people are left hungry at your meal.

When you buy meat with a butcher, you can get the exact amount you need. You can speak with the butcher about how many people you’re preparing food for, and they’ll advise you on the amount of meat you’ll need. 

Higher Quality Meat

When you shop with a butcher, the meat is typically fresher and higher-quality than the meat you buy pre-packaged at the store. You’ll never have to worry that the meat you bought today will be spoiled by the time you make dinner tomorrow. You can ask your butcher exactly how the meat you’re buying was prepared and how long it should last before spoiling. 

Knowing What Your Getting

Many people prefer to buy meat from butchers who use humane practices and operate ethically. When you buy directly from the butcher, you can discuss whether the meat comes from humane slaughterhouses and farms. When you buy pre-packaged meat at the grocery store, there’s not much you can do to determine if it came from an ethically operated business. 

If you’re looking for meat prepared by true pros, Grand Peaks Prime Meats has what you need. The meat at Grand Peaks Prime is responsibly raised and of the highest quality. Contact the team if you have any questions about a potential order.

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