How to Become a

Fish & Meat Smoker

The complete career guide to be a Fish & Meat Smoker: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $30,320
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 1.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Growing Industry
    Career Attribute

A fish and meat smoker is responsible for ensuring the optimum state of the product through the smoking process. In this role, you must have a thorough knowledge of different meats and poultry, while also mastering various smoking techniques for flavor and texture.

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What is a Fish & Meat Smoker?


The duties of a fish and meat smoker are as stated below:

  • Place cured meat, fish onto racks, and bring them to smoking equipment or the smoke house for further drying and smoking.
  • Oversee the control settings of smoke chambers and smoking equipment in which meat or fish is being cooked and cured, e.g. meat shoulders, meat sausages and wieners.
  • Keep a close watch on meat and fish inventory, alerting production for ordering more supplies.
  • Carefully monitor the condition of fish or meat during the smoking process by paying attention to firmness, colour, and temperature.
  • Run maintenance checks and clean work areas once the product is smoked and transferred from the racks – remove ash, vacuum, scrub the floors, etc.

Day In The Life

Your work as a smoker will really depend on the type of operation you are working at. For instance, if it’s a restaurant or hotel chain, the cooking staff will assign the portions of meat to be smoked or cured for the next day. You would load various cuts of meat like rubbed brisket or baby back ribs into a smoker that is fired with coal or certain wood types, e.g. cherry wood, maple wood, apple wood, hickory.

Once the temperature is set by you, the smokers are locked overnight to imbue flavour to the meat or poultry as needed. You along with a pit crew, would check on the smokers next morning to see if the internal temperature is correct. At this point, you remove the items and keep them wrapped up in holding cabinets to preserve the flavour while cooling it to around 100-145 degrees.

Work Schedule

As a fish and meat smoker, you can choose to work full time or part time with retail stores, restaurants and hotel chains. An irregular work schedule means you may have to work late evenings, early mornings, over the weekend and on holidays. If you are working at a fish/meat processing warehouse or facility, work shifts could start in the early morning, afternoon or evening. The work can be physically strenuous, with extended periods of standing and moving heavy meat or fish supplies. Since meat or fish must be smoked at certain temperatures, you will be working in extremely hot or cool environments.

Growth Of The Job

The popularity of pre-cooked and easy to prepare fish and meat products like smoked fish, smoked sausages, cured ham, etc. is predicted to rise over the next decade. Employment of individuals like fish and meat smokers in the industry is expected to rise at 5% between 2012 to 2022. Many job openings will emerge due to a high turnover in this career sector, stemming from the physically demanding work duties.

Typical Employers

Fish and meat smokers are usually employed by large retail chains, specialty meat and grocery shops, and meat or fish processing plants. There are also some hotels and restaurants that keep an in-house smoker for signature smoking techniques. Very rarely do fish and meat smokers open an independent business.

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How To Become a Fish & Meat Smoker

There are no formal requirements to be a successful fish and meat smoker. To excel, you should at least possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.  If interested in this career path, you will likely pick up the skills on the job, working with experienced smokers. The length of training can vary depending on the smoking techniques learnt, equipment and tools used, different cutting and roasting methods, etc. You can expect to train up to one or two years in order to build a strong foundation and join a retail position. Working with a recognised apprenticeship program can fast forward your chances of an entry-level position.

You must have a passion for fish and meat, as this job requires you to work with it for long hours in the day. A good eye for detail is also helpful to carefully monitor the smoking process for flawless results. Many smokers join this field after several years of experience as a meat cutter or butcher. You can gain a strong knowledge of meat preparation, using meat

Fish & Meat Smoker Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Fish & Meat Smoker salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Fish & Meat Smoker's can make an average annual salary of $30,320, or $15 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $22,180 or $11 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #696 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Fish & Meat Smokers

  • 0%   Doctorate
  • 1.6%   Masters
  • 7.3%   Bachelors
  • 7.4%   Associates
  • 24%   College
  • 42.2%   High School
  • 17.5%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Fish & Meat Smoker job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 200 jobs for a total of 18,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 1.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #575 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Fish & Meat Smokers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing 4,100 -100 0%
Other food manufacturing 2,700 100 0%
Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing 2,500 -100 0%

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