People who perform this position can have the job titles Deboner, Knife Handler, Cutter, Chicken Cutter, Trimmer or Butcher. No matter what you call this job, this position takes skill, and our world wouldn’t taste quite the same without their hard work.

What is the purpose of deboning?

A chicken drumstick isn’t a drumstick without the bone, but a chicken nugget with a bone in it just won’t do. The point is, different cuts of chicken need various bones removed. Since chicken processing plants are preparing chickens for stores and restaurants around the country, and sometimes around the world, these companies need skilled workers to debone chickens to create different types of cuts for delicious chicken meals. 

How do you debone a bird?

Whether you’re in the kitchen or working in a poultry plant, the concept of deboning is the same: you’re trying to cut meat away from the bone with a knife. Many plants use traditional knives and Whizzard knives. Trimming and cleaning are often done with traditional bladed knives or scissors. That sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast. While you can certainly learn to debone a chicken, it takes skill to do it right and even more skill to debone a chicken quickly. 

What is the job description of a Deboner?

A typical job description may sound like this:

A deboner will remove meat product from the bird using a straight knife and/or Whizzard knife. A deboner must be able to determine appropriate cuts according to training and be able to make cuts for wings, skin, breast fillets and breast tenders. Additionally, the deboner must be able to lift 40 to 45 lbs and stand for eight or more hours.

What is it like inside a chicken factory?

Food production plants — including poultry plants — work kind of like other factories. The product is moved from station to station with workers and machines working to ensure the product is ready for the next step. Depending on what kind of chicken product a plant produces, the poultry plant will have different jobs and equipment for its workers to use. Because poultry plants make food, they are very clean, and workers must wear uniforms that ensure cleanliness. Some areas of a chicken poultry plant may be very warm, but deboners typically work in a cold environment. To keep the fresh meat cold and safe, this part of a processing plant acts like a giant refrigerated room. Most jobs in a poultry processing plant require employees to stand to perform their job. Another thing to note is that a poultry plant will most likely smell like chicken since they process so many birds. If you don’t mind the cold and don’t mind the smell of chicken, the plant environment shouldn’t worry you. 

How much do Deboners get paid?

On average, a someone working in a debone position will make $12.00 to $13.38 per hour ($24,960 to $27,830 salary) according to Payscale, but skilled Deboners can make as much as $17 or $18 per hour ($35,360 to $37,440 salary), depending on their location, skillset and the company they are working for. 

Pay isn’t just about how much money will show up on your paycheck. Medical benefits mean you’ll be using less of your paycheck to pay for the healthcare you need. The good news is many poultry workers, including those working as Deboners, have benefits that include insurance. As always, Ōnin Teammates have great benefits available. These are all items you will want to consider when looking at jobs and potential salaries.

What shift does the debone line work?

It’s common for poultry plants to have both first and second shifts. Some plants may even have a third shift. If you don’t mind being a night owl, night shift workers sometimes make more money per hour than the day shift team. 

How do I find a Deboning job?

Chicken is hot, and we don’t mean “hot” like a spicy chicken wing (although those are amazing). Poultry jobs are in high demand because people eat a lot of chicken. That’s good news for anyone interested in working in a poultry plant. 

You can find many of these jobs by simply searching for poultry jobs on a job site like Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Career Builder or simply doing a Google search for deboner jobs. 

You can also call your local staffing agency and see if they have any positions in poultry that are available. Finally, if you know what poultry companies are in your local area, check out their website for open positions or simply reach out to them and let their team know you are interested in joining. 

Remember, no matter what kind of job you’re looking for, having a strong social network is always helpful, so ask people you know if they have any hot job leads. Also, make sure you have a resume ready to go. 

Like anything else, having experience in poultry will help you get hired, especially for deboning positions, which can be complicated and take skill. But even if you don’t have the experience, you can still be a deboner. Just be prepared to start out in a less skilled position in a poultry manufacturing company and work your way into the position you are interested in. 

What skills do I need to be a Deboner?

Here is a list of typical skills needed for a Deboner: 

  • Experience making the right kinds of cuts on chicken in a meat processing environment very quickly
  • Experience using a straight knife and wizard knife 
  • Must be able to lift 40 to 45 lbs
  • Physical fitness: you must be able to stand for eight or more hours and potentially lift up to 30-50 pounds and stoop or squat
  • Attention to detail: Must be able to pass weekly audits and follow safety procedures at all times
  • Must be able to follow instructions

Do I need a certification to be a Deboner?

The only thing needed for this position is the right skill set. Most deboner positions do not require certification, although prior experience is often preferred. There is typically not an education requirement to work as a deboner either, which means those with a high school diploma, GED, or no education certification can perform this job. 

Love the sound of this job? Your local Ōnin Staffing may have a similar position available. Contact the Ōnin Staffing closest to you to get started.