Cook Job Description

If you have a dream of practicing the culinary arts but don’t know where to start, then getting a job as a cook will help you learn the basics while introducing you to the restaurant lifestyle.

There are many types of cooks, each with their own unique sets of responsibilities.

Restaurant cooks cook meals individually. They must be familiar with making a wide variety of dishes, and be able to handle the pressure of a restaurant environment. Read more about restaurant cooks.

Short order cooks prepare foods that can be made very quickly. Sandwiches and french fries are examples of foods that a short order cook might make. Read more about short order cooks.

Fast food cooks work in fast food restaurants. They use high volume equipment to cook lots of food at the same time, and are normally only trained to make a few items. Read more about fast food cooks.

Cafeteria cooks prepare large quantities of food, following preset menus and recipes. They are often employed in schools, hospitals, and business cafeterias. Read more about cafeteria cooks.

Work Environment and Schedule

Cooks work in many different environments. Employment can be found in hotels, restaurants, resorts, bars, hospitals, and even private homes.

Cooking can be a stressful occupation, especially during breakfast, lunch, or dinner rushes. For even the most experienced cooks, preparing large volumes of food to order is no easy task.

The working schedule for cooks can be challenging as well. Restaurant cooks have to work late nights and weekends, which can make it difficult to manage a family or social life outside of work.

Other cooks work more regular shifts. For instance, school cafeteria cooks work during the day and have weekends and evenings free.

How to Become a Cook

Most cooks are trained on the job. New cooks normally start out performing simple tasks in the kitchen. In restaurants, many cooks start out as fry cooks or salad makers until they learn enough to take on more advanced roles.

Formal education and apprenticeships are also available. If you’re interested in pursuing training, the American Culinary Federation maintains a list of recommended programs.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 17,950 cooks in the United States, with 750 new cook job openings created each year.

Cook jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Cook Salaries

Overall Salaries

Cook salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most cooks make between $18,700 – $29,200 per year, or $8.99 – $14.05 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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