All You Need To Know About Being A Butcher

You consider becoming a butcher but are not sure whether this is the right career path for you or not?

Great! This article is exactly for you since I will show you all you need to know about a butcher career in the following chapters.

Not only will I show you how much you can make as a butcher, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, working hours, educational requirements, job prospects and much more.

At the end of this article, I will also provide you with an extensive FAQ section where I answer all questions about working as a butcher you might have.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a butcher or rather want to go for a different career instead.

Table of Contents

What does a Butcher do?

Butchers slaughter animals, prepare meat and sell it to customers. They are responsible to provide high-quality meat to their clients while still meeting hygienic requirements associated with the preparation of meat.

Duties of a Butcher

  • Slaughtering of animals
  • Preparation of meat
  • Cleaning of meat
  • Cleaning of the workplace
  • Assurance of good hygienic conditions
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Making sure that animals will not suffer
  • Making sure that meat is used as efficiently as possible
  • Weighing of meat
  • Packaging of meat
  • Pricing of meat
  • Food preparation
  • Planning so that enough meat is available in the long run
  • Getting rid of old meat that is no longer suitable for consumption
  • Consulting of customers who are not sure what to buy
  • Selling meat to customers
  • Advertising tasks so that customers will come back

What a Typical Day of a Butcher looks like?

Most butchers start their workday between 4 and 7 a.m. The sooner you start, the more time you have to prepare the meat before customers finally come to your butchery.

After preparing the meat and making sure that hygienic requirements are met, the most stressful and labor-intensive part of the day will already be over.

The rest of the workday, you will focus on selling meat to customers and making sure that your clients are happy so that they come back in the long run and you can stay competitive.

Depending on when you have started your workday, you will usually come home from work between 4 and 7 p.m.

Most butchers work around 40 hours per week and have lots of time to spend on their hobbies or with their loved ones.

Butcher Salary 2021

Butcher salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $52,000> $25.73
Top 25 %$41,000 – $46,000$20.31 – $22.78
Bottom 25 %$24,000 – $29,000$11.81 – $14.29
Bottom 10 %$17,000 – $21,000$8.35 – $10.28
Range$17,000 – $56,000$8.35 – $27.84
Average (Mean)$37,000$18.41
Median$35,000$17.37

Butcher salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$17,000 – $23,000$8.35 – $11.31
Junior$21,000 – $27,000$10.28 – $13.39
Professional$25,000 – $36,000$12.34 – $17.78
Senior Professional$29,000 – $41,000$14.38 – $20.42
Expert$36,000 – $48,000$17.85 – $23.75
Top Expert$43,000 – $56,000$21.37 – $27.83

Butcher salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$32,300$16.03
Alaska$31,600$15.61
Arizona$35,200$17.48
Arkansas$33,400$16.58
California$41,500$20.62
Colorado$35,400$17.58
Connecticut$34,800$17.29
Delaware$33,500$16.61
District of Columbia$38,700$19.22
Florida$37,600$18.71
Georgia$36,400$18.08
Guam$34,200$17.04
Hawaii$38,100$19.02
Idaho$36,200$18.06
Illinois$35,400$17.61
Indiana$34,700$17.23
Iowa$36,100$17.93
Kansas$34,700$17.29
Kentucky$33,800$16.81
Louisiana$36,200$18.05
Maine$35,400$17.61
Maryland$38,600$19.18
Massachusetts$39,300$19.63
Michigan$32,600$16.22
Minnesota$34,200$17.04
Mississippi$33,500$16.67
Missouri$34,100$17.01
Montana$32,700$16.24
Nebraska$33,400$16.59
Nevada$36,200$18.07
New Hampshire$35,800$17.82
New Jersey$37,800$18.72
New Mexico$33,600$16.67
New York$42,700$21.27
North Carolina$36,300$18.11
North Dakota$34,400$17.12
Ohio$35,900$17.83
Oklahoma$34,200$17.06
Oregon$33,700$16.67
Pennsylvania$37,600$18.71
Rhode Island$36,200$18.06
South Carolina$34,300$17.11
South Dakota$36,200$18.05
Tennessee$34,800$17.31
Texas$33,400$16.59
Utah$35,700$17.62
Vermont$37,300$18.58
Virginia$36,500$18.21
Washington$38,300$19.12
West Virginia$35,600$17.71
Wisconsin$34,300$17.13
Wyoming$37,400$18.62

Job Security for Butchers

Since butchers don’t need to get a degree, barriers to entry are rather low and almost everyone can become a butcher.

However, many people out there still don’t want to do this job anymore and job prospects are pretty decent for butchers in our current state of the world.

Future Job Prospects of Butchers

Since most people don’t want to work as a butcher anymore and this trend will likely continue in the future, there will be a shortage of qualified butchers in many states and regions.

Consequently, you will have pretty good job prospects in the future while salaries will also likely go up.

Working Hours of Butchers

Butchers usually start their workday between 4 and 7 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 7 p.m.

Most butchers don’t work more than 40 hours per week and will also not have to work many extra hours.

Hence, becoming a butcher can be great if leisure is really important to you.

Job Satisfaction of Butchers

Since butchers don’t make good money from what they are doing and also have to work in a physically demanding environment, many butchers complain about their working conditions and secretly think about switching to a different field of work.

Promotion Opportunities of Butchers

There are not many promotion opportunities for butchers. Instead, you will do the same job for many years or even decades.

If you are lucky, you may be able to open your own butchery and let other butchers do the exhausting work after you have saved enough money to start your own business.

Career Levels of Butchers

  • Butcher intern
  • Butcher apprentice
  • Junior butcher
  • Senior butcher
  • Senior butcher with personnel responsibilities
  • Manager of a butchery
  • Owner of a butchery

Fields and Types of Butchers

  • Sausage butcher
  • Meat butcher
  • Supermarket butcher
  • Butcher who works in a small butchery
  • Butcher who works in restaurants
  • Local butcher
  • Transregional butcher businesses
  • Butcher business that operates worldwide
  • Meat wrapper
  • Meat cutter
  • Meat clerk

Educational Requirements for Butchers

You don’t need a degree for becoming a butcher. Instead, you just need to finish high school and do an apprenticeship in a butchery.

In fact, you will learn most things on the job and it is not necessary to look good on paper since your practical skills are much more important in this field anyway.

How to become a Butcher

  1. Make sure that a butcher career is suitable for you
  2. Work as an intern in a butchery
  3. Learn about meat cuts and other things related to this industry
  4. Learn about regulatory requirements
  5. Get some certifications in this field (optional)
  6. Apply for an apprenticeship at a butchery
  7. Master the job interview
  8. Sign your first working contract
  9. Work hard and make a good impression
  10. Become an important part of the butchery team
  11. Start your own butchery (optional)

Character Traits you need for Working as a Butcher

  • Stress resistance
  • Willingness to slaughter animals
  • You should not be sensitive
  • You should be willing to work with your hands
  • You should be outgoing to sell meat to clients
  • Willingness to spend your workday in a rather exotic environment
  • Attention to detail enables you to make the best meat cuts
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments in an emotionally healthy manner
  • Willingness to keep your workplace tidy to meet hygienic requirements

Hard Skills for Being a Butcher

  • Knowledge of rules and regulations in the butcher industry
  • Ability to slaughter animals
  • Knowledge of how to process and package meat
  • You have to know for how long you are able to sell meat to customers
  • Good math skills help you operate your business profitably
  • Accounting skills can help you do financial paperwork
  • Knowledge of sausage preparation
  • Knowledge of how to make decent meat cuts
  • You need to comply with safety standards
  • Good promotion skills for food
  • Digital skills to promote your business

Soft Skills for Being a Butcher

  • Emotional stability to not get sad about slaughtering animals
  • Empathy for customers
  • Stress resistance
  • Good selling skills
  • Good people skills
  • Making sure that clients have a good time
  • Good time management skills
  • Willingness to work with your hands
  • You should be outgoing and open to talk to new clients on a regular basis

Exit Options for Butchers

There are not many exit options for butchers. Once you work in this industry, it is pretty hard to get out of it unless you get additional qualifications or a degree that allows you to work in a completely different industry.

Butcher – Similar Careers

  • Chef
  • Caterer
  • Food processing workers
  • Service worker
  • Kitchen helper
  • Farmer
  • Farmworker
  • Food supervisor
  • Packager
  • Production helper

Butcher Career FAQs

Is working as a butcher physically demanding?

Working as a butcher can be physically demanding. Especially if you are focused on slaughtering and processing the meat of animals, you will have to do heavy work with your hands all day long and you will often come home tired and exhausted from work.

Is working as a butcher mentally demanding?

Working as a butcher is not extremely mentally demanding. While you will have to focus on your work, you will not have to do pretty complex things like professors or people who have demanding jobs in the corporate world have to do on a regular basis.

Is it dangerous to work as a butcher?

Working as a butcher can be risky. Especially if you are focused on the slaughtering and processing of animals, you will have to make many different meat cuts and if you are not careful, you may cut yourself and since butcher knives are pretty sharp, you may lose a finger if you are unlucky.

How long do butchers stay in their jobs?

Butchers usually stay in their jobs for quite a long time. While many butchers complain about their working conditions, they still suffer from a lack of job alternatives and will therefore have to work in this field for quite a long time.

Is it easy for butchers to find a new job?

It is relatively easy to find a new job as a butcher, especially if you live in a region where many people live and the demand for meat is quite high.

However, if you live in a small village and lose your job in the local butchery, you may have to move to find another job again.

Is it hard to switch from being a butcher to another field of work?

Many butchers have problems switching from the butcher industry to a different field of work.

In fact, many butchers have to stay in their jobs for quite a long time since they simply don’t find other firms that are willing to employ them in a different field of work.

Do butchers have a high social status?

Butchers don’t have a high social status. While they are important to assure our meat supply, many people still don’t like butchers since they slaughter animals and you may therefore have to deal with many snarky comments in this regard.

Can you help out your family and friends as a butcher?

You will not be able to help out your family and friends as a butcher that much.

While you can tell your loved ones what cuts of meat they should buy for various occasions, you can still not do something really important for them compared to craftsmen who can really repair important things.

Can butchers work remotely?

Butchers can’t work remotely. Instead, you will have to be present at work in person and this will take away lots of flexibility from you.

You will also have to commute to work and back while other people who work in classical office jobs can often work from home and can save lots of time and money.

Is it easy to find a partner as a butcher?

Since butchers have a rather low social status and also don’t make good money from what they are doing, it is pretty difficult for butchers to find a partner for a long-term relationship.

In fact, you will have a much more difficult time compared to doctors or other people who make both good money and have a high social standing.

Do butchers have to work on weekends?

Butchers don’t have to work on weekends most of the time.

While you may have to work during Saturdays and Sundays sometimes, you will have to work on weekdays most of the time and will have many free weekends to spend with your loved ones or on your favorite hobbies.

Do butchers have to work on holidays?

Butchers usually don’t have to work on holidays. Hence, compared to waiters or train drivers who have to work during those unpleasant times, you will be more flexible regarding how you want to celebrate those special days.

Do I have to work at nighttime as a butcher?

You don’t have to work at nighttime as a butcher. Instead, you will get to work in the morning and will leave your workplace in the late afternoon or early evening.

In turn, you will have more than enough time to meet up with people after work or to spend with your family.

Do you have to travel as a butcher?

You don’t have to travel as a butcher. Instead, you will just work at the same location for many years or even decades.

Hence, while many other people who work in classical office jobs will have to travel quite a lot and will be away from home quite often, you can spend your leisure with the people you like most.

Are butcher pensions good?

Butchers don’t make good money and therefore, also butcher pensions are rather low.

Moreover, since butchers don’t make good money, they are also not able to save and invest enough money for retirement and may therefore get into financial trouble once they quit their active careers.

Are butcher salaries going up?

Butcher salaries have not gone up significantly over the past decades. However, since not many people want to become butchers anymore, there is a good chance that salaries will go up in the future due to a shortage of labor in this field.

Can you have a positive effect on society as a butcher?

You will not be able to have a positive effect on society as a butcher.

All you do is preparing and selling meat to customers and while this is important to keep our system running, you can still not influence many people in the same way as teachers or other people are able to do.

How long does it take to become a butcher?

Since you don’t need a degree for becoming a butcher, you can start your butcher career right after finishing high school.

You just need to apply for an apprenticeship and can start your butcher career within a few months or even weeks.

Is it difficult to become a butcher?

It is not difficult to become a butcher. All you need to do is to apply for an apprenticeship at local butcheries.

The more applications you write, the higher the chance that you will find a butcher who is willing to employ you.

Due to the shortage of workers in this industry, you may be able to become a butcher even if you have bad grades.

Do you need to be smart to work as a butcher?

You don’t need to be smart as a butcher. What is much more important is that you have the ambition and the willingness to work with your hands and that you are also willing to slaughter animals and to process their meat.

Do butchers have a good work-life balance?

Butchers have a pretty decent work-life balance. Since they often have free weekends, holidays and also don’t have to work at nighttime, many butchers are pretty happy with their mix between work and leisure and most butchers also report that they have more than enough time to spend with their families.

Do butchers have to work many extra hours?

Butchers don’t have to work many extra hours. Instead, they have rather standard workweeks and will often only work 40 hours or less.

Consequently, becoming a butcher can make sense for you if you want to make a living from what you are doing but also want to have enough leisure to spend on the things you like even more than work.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a butcher?

The sooner you get knowledge and experience in the butcher industry, the more likely it is to find someone who will be willing to employ you.

Thus, if you are really ambitious, you should apply for a butcher internship while you are still in school and build some contacts with employees in the butchery so that you will have an easy time getting a job once you finish school.

Can butchers work part-time?

Some butchers also work part-time. However, if you want to make a living from a butcher career, chances are that you will have to work full-time since the hourly wage of butchers is pretty low and working part-time will just not be enough to pay your bills, especially if you live in expensive regions where living costs are quite high.

Do butchers work indoors or outdoors?

Butchers mainly work indoors. However, you will often still have to work in a rather unpleasant environment, especially if your job is to slaughter animals and to process their meat and if you are the kind of sensitive person, you should rather work in a different field instead.

What does the workplace of a butcher look like?

While you will work in the slaughterhouse if your job is to slaughter and process the meat of animals, you will work in the sales area if you are mainly focused on selling and promoting meat.

Hence, how your workplace will look like as a butcher greatly depends on the area and the tasks you specialize in.

Do you have to look good for working as a butcher?

There is no need to look good as a flesher. What’s much more important is that you look groomed and that you also have lots of expertise since this is what people expect from you when they come to a butchery.

Thus, don’t let your looks determine your success in the job market and rather focus on your skills.

Is a butcher career beneficial for your private life?

Working as a butcher will not be that beneficial for your private life. Since you will not make good money and will also have a relatively low social standing, you will often have a pretty hard time finding someone to start a family with and your partner may also be more likely to leave you for a better deal sooner or later.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a butcher?

You don’t need a college degree for becoming a butcher. In most regions, it will be enough to finish high school and you will be able to apply for an apprenticeship pretty early in your life.

Hence, while many of your friends will have to get a college degree, you will not have to spend lots of money on education but can rather even earn money right after getting your high school diploma.

Do you need to be certified to work as a butcher?

You also don’t need any certificates for working as a butcher. While those certificates may help you find a job, you don’t urgently need to get them.

Instead, what’s more important is that you are willing to work with your hands and that you also gain some experience through internships.

How much does it cost to become a butcher?

Since butchers don’t need a degree, you will not have to spend any money on your career.

Instead, you will be able to work as a butcher apprentice right after getting your high school diploma and while many other people have to spend lots of money on college, you will be able to earn money at a rather young age.

Is being a butcher a good career?

Many butchers are not happy with their jobs since they don’t make good money while they still have to work in a heavy physical manner.

In fact, many butchers think about leaving their jobs but simply can’t find companies that would be willing to employ them due to a lack of hard skills.

Is it easy to start your own business as a butcher?

It is not easy to start your own business as a butcher since you will often have to spend lots of money on machinery and equipment upfront and this means that you would have to save lots of money for quite a long time.

Moreover, you would also have to comply with many regulatory requirements and this will make it even harder to start your own butcher business.

Can butchers teach themselves?

Butchers can teach themselves quite a lot. In fact, you will learn what you need to know on the job.

However, you will still need experienced colleagues on your side who can support you, especially during your first years when you don’t have the knowledge and experience to completely work on your own yet.

Do butchers make good money?

Butchers can’t make really good money. Instead, many butchers struggle to make a living from what they are doing, especially if they live in expensive regions of our planet where rents are quite high.

Hence, if money is really important to you, you should not become a butcher but rather aspire to a career as a doctor or lawyer instead.

Is it ever too late to become a butcher?

It is never too late to become a butcher. However, since the job of butchers can be physically demanding, you should not start your butcher career too late since you would simply not be able to work under those physically demanding conditions once you reach a certain age.

Do butchers have to quit their careers early?

Since working as a butcher is physically demanding, many butchers suffer from back pain or other physical health issues once they get older.

Consequently, many butchers have to quit their careers early and have to find another job in a different field where they don’t have to stress their bodies that much.

What is the most challenging thing about working as a butcher?

The most challenging part of working as a butcher is to have the emotional stability to take away the lives of animals.

This is really not for everyone and if you a rather sensitive person, chances are that you should not become a butcher but rather work in a different field instead.

Can you provide for your family by working as a butcher?

It is pretty hard to provide for your family as a butcher. Especially if you live in a region where living costs are quite high, chances are that you will be barely able to pay your bills and if you have a family, you may have to get a second job to provide for your loved ones.

Will butchers suffer from old-age poverty?

Since butchers don’t make good money, their pensions will be rather low and they are also not able to save and invest enough money.

Consequently, once butchers quit their active careers, many of them will suffer from old-age poverty and may no longer be able to pay their bills.

Can butchers retire early?

Most butchers are not able to retire early since they just don’t earn enough money to do so.

Instead, butchers often have to work for quite a long time, even though they often suffer from physical health issues due to the stressful nature of this job.

Can you get rich as a butcher?

You will not be able to get rich as an employed butcher. If you really want to get wealthy or even rich in this field, you need to start your own butcher business and expand it as much as possible.

However, only a small minority of butchers will ever get to this point.

Do you get continuous training as a butcher?

Once you have learned your craft, you will no longer get training. Instead, if you want to learn even more about the butcher industry, you will have to teach yourself and get in touch with colleagues or other people who are well-recognized in this industry.

Are butchers organized in unions?

Butchers are not organized in unions. While there is a union for meatpackers, it will often not represent butchers and butchers will therefore have to negotiate wages and other benefits themselves rather than to rely on unions that could do this for them.

Do you get paid when you are sick as a butcher?

There is often no sick for butchers. However, this also greatly varies across butcheries and regions.

Hence, if you are not sure about whether you get sick pay or not, you should have a look at your working contract or talk to your colleagues at work.

Do butchers have a high level of responsibility?

Butchers have a high level of responsibility. Since they process meat and sell it to customers, butchers have to pay great attention to detail so that they don’t make mistakes and sell meat to clients that is already too old and may be contaminated with harmful germs.

Can butchers work abroad?

Since butchers are needed in almost all parts of our planet, it will be pretty easy to work as a butcher abroad.

However, you may still have to get some additional qualifications and some knowledge of the local rules and regulations before you find a butchery that is willing to employ you in a different country.

Is it stressful to work as a butcher?

Working as a butcher is not that stressful. While it may be difficult from an emotional perspective, you will not have that much time pressure and once you develop a certain routine, you will have a rather relaxed time at work, at least if you have the right mindset and don’t get discouraged by drawbacks easily.

Is it boring to work as a butcher?

Working as a butcher will never get boring. You will just have so many demanding things to do that you will not be able to rest for an extended period of time.

Instead, you will have to assure that the butchery you work for is running properly and you will also have to deal with all sorts of new issues that arise on a daily basis.

Is being a butcher hard?

Working as a butcher can be hard from a physical as well as from an emotional perspective since you will often have to lift heavy things and work with your hands will you often also have to take away the lives of animals.

Hence, working as a butcher can be really demanding and it is not for everyone for sure.

Is burnout a problem for butchers?

Since a butcher job is not that stressful, the risk for burnout will be rather low. However, you should still have a strong mindset and you should also not be a sensitive person.

Otherwise, you may not get happy with what you are doing and you may just worry about going to work on a daily basis which may let you burn out in the long run.

Is there a dress code for butchers?

There is no fixed dress code for butchers. However, most of the time, the butchery you work for will provide you with clothes so that you represent the butchery in a decent manner and clients will know that you are a staff member instead of a normal customer.

What kind of butchers are paid the most?

The higher your expertise and the faster you work, the more valuable you are to a butchery.

Consequently, you should never stop to learn and you should always learn new valuable skills if you want to make as much money as possible in the butcher industry.

What percentage of butchers are women?

Around 26% of butchers are women and 74% are men. Hence, the butcher industry is still dominated by men.

However, this doesn’t mean that men have a better chance to get a job in this industry.

It just means that more men than women want to work in this field.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a butcher?

There is no need to get a mentor in the butcher industry.

What’s much more important is the willingness to work with your hands and the emotional stability when it comes to slaughtering animals.

You can also learn a lot from seasoned colleagues instead of relying on a mentor.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a butcher?

As an employed butcher, you will often not be personally liable for mistakes. However, things will be different if you own a butchery.

Hence, make sure to get proper insurance so that you are covered in case of emergency and don’t have to suffer from serious financial issues.

Do butchers have a high life expectancy?

Since butchers work in a rather exhausting environment and also don’t make good money, they often have a rather low life expectancy since they will often suffer from serious health issues once they get older but will still not be able to get proper medical treatment.

Do butchers suffer from sleeping problems?

Since butchers don’t have to work at nighttime, they often don’t suffer from sleeping problems.

However, you may still suffer from sleeping problems if you are a rather sensitive person who is not happy to work with meat since your experiences from your job may haunt you at night.

What states are best for working as a butcher?

The best states for butchers are the states where living costs are rather low while there is still a huge demand for meat.

For instance, Texas can be a great state for butchers since rents in small cities are often rather low while the demand for meat is often quite high and you will therefore have a safe job.

Who do butchers work with?

Butchers work with many different customers on a daily basis. As a butcher, you will also work with many colleagues and you should therefore be an outgoing and kind person to succeed in the butcher industry in the long run.

Is working as a butcher cool?

Working as a butcher is not considered cool by most people. Instead, butchers are often called out for being cruel to animals and some people may even insult you or make fun of you for what you are doing for a living.

Do you have to be creative as a butcher?

Butchers don’t have to be creative. Instead, working processes will be quite repeatable and once you have learned your craft, you will know what you have to do for most of your workday and a high level of creativity will not be needed to succeed in this industry.

How employable are butchers?

Since not many people want to become a butcher anymore while the demand for meat is still high, butchers are pretty employable and you will not have to worry about getting unemployed in the meat industry anytime soon.

Are butchers happy with their jobs?

Most butchers are not happy with what they are doing for a living. Instead, butchers are often quite annoyed by the overall working conditions and many of them think about quitting their careers and doing something else where they can make more money and also don’t have to work in a heavy physical manner anymore.

Is working as a butcher exciting?

While you will learn many new things at the beginning of your butcher career, working as a butcher is not that exciting once you get more experienced.

In the long run, your level of excitement may drop significantly since you will just develop a certain daily routine.

What are the pros and cons of working as a butcher?

If you are still interested in becoming a butcher, you may also want to have a look at the pros and cons of a butcher career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1087751/number-butchers-meat-cutters-united-states/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/237632/production-of-meat-worldwide-since-1990/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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