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Become A Cook/Dietary Aide

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Working As A Cook/Dietary Aide

  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Stressful

  • $29,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Cook/Dietary Aide Do

Cooks prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods, which may include soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

Duties

Cooks typically do the following:

  • Ensure the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Weigh, measure, and mix ingredients according to recipes
  • Bake, grill, or fry meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Boil and steam meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Arrange, garnish, and sometimes serve food
  • Clean work areas, equipment, utensils, and dishes
  • Cook, handle, and store food or ingredients

Cooks usually work under the direction of chefs, head cooks, or food service managers. Large restaurants and food service establishments often have multiple menus and large kitchen staffs. Teams of restaurant cooks, sometimes called assistant cooks or line cooks, work at assigned stations equipped with the necessary types of stoves, grills, pans, and ingredients.

Job titles often reflect the principal ingredient cooks prepare or the type of cooking they do—vegetable cook, fry cook, or grill cook, for example.

Cooks use a variety of kitchen equipment, including broilers, grills, slicers, grinders, and blenders.

The responsibilities of cooks vary depending on where they work, the size of the facility, and the level of service offered. However, in all establishments, they follow established sanitation procedures when handling food. For example, they store food and ingredients at the correct temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.

The following are examples of types of cooks:

Restaurant cooks prepare a wide selection of dishes and cook most orders individually. Some restaurant cooks may order supplies, set menu prices, and plan the daily menu.

Fast-food cooks prepare a limited selection of menu items in fast-food restaurants. They cook and package food, such as hamburgers and fried chicken, to be kept warm until served. For more information on workers who prepare and serve items in fast-food restaurants, see the profiles on food preparation workers and food and beverage serving and related workers.

Institution and cafeteria cooks work in the kitchens of schools, cafeterias, businesses, hospitals, and other institutions. For each meal, they prepare a large quantity of a limited number of entrees, vegetables, and desserts, according to preset menus. These cooks usually prepare meals in advance and seldom take special orders.

Short-order cooks prepare foods in restaurants and coffee shops that emphasize fast service and quick food preparation. They usually prepare sandwiches, fry eggs, and cook french fries, often working on several orders at the same time.

Private household cooks, sometimes called personal chefs, plan and prepare meals in private homes, according to the client’s tastes and dietary needs. They order groceries and supplies, clean the kitchen, and wash dishes and utensils. They also may cater parties, holiday meals, luncheons, and other social events. Private household cooks typically work for one full-time client, although some are self-employed or employed by an agency, regularly making meals for multiple clients.

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How To Become A Cook/Dietary Aide

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training and work-related experience. Although no formal education is required, some restaurant cooks and private household cooks attend culinary schools. Others attend vocational or apprenticeship programs.

Education

Vocational cooking schools, professional culinary institutes, and some colleges offer culinary programs for aspiring cooks. These programs generally last from a few months to 2 years and may offer courses in advanced cooking techniques, international cuisines, and various cooking styles. To enter these programs, candidates may be required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the type and length of the program, graduates generally qualify for entry-level positions as a restaurant cook.

Training

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. Trainees generally first learn kitchen basics and workplace safety and then learn how to handle and cook food.

Some cooks learn through an apprenticeship program. Professional culinary institutes, industry associations, and trade unions may sponsor such programs for cooks. Typical apprenticeships last 1 year and combine technical training and work experience. Apprentices complete courses in food sanitation and safety, basic knife skills, and equipment operation. They also learn practical cooking skills under the supervision of an experienced chef.

The American Culinary Federation accredits more than 200 academic training programs and sponsors apprenticeships through these programs around the country. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 17
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Some hotels, a number of restaurants, and the Armed Forces have their own training programs.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many cooks learn their skills through work-related experience. They typically start as a kitchen helper or food preparation worker, learning basic cooking skills before they advance to assistant cook or line cook positions. Some learn by working under the guidance of a more experienced cook.

Advancement

The American Culinary Federation certifies chefs, personal chefs, pastry chefs, and culinary administrators, among others. For cooks seeking advancement to higher level chef positions, certification can show accomplishment and lead to higher paying positions.

Advancement opportunities for cooks often depend on training, work experience, and the ability to prepare more complex dishes. Those who learn new cooking skills and who handle greater responsibility, such as supervising kitchen staff in the absence of a chef, often advance. Some cooks may train or supervise kitchen staff, and some may become head cooks, chefs, or food service managers.

Important Qualities

Comprehension. Cooks need to understand orders and follow recipes to prepare dishes correctly.

Customer-service skills. Restaurant and short-order cooks must be able to interact effectively with customers and handle special requests.

Dexterity. Cooks should have excellent hand–eye coordination. For example, they need to use proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing.

Physical stamina. Cooks spend a lot of time standing in one place, cooking food over hot stoves, and cleaning work areas.

Sense of taste and smell. Cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell to prepare meals that customers enjoy.

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Cook/Dietary Aide Career Paths

Cook/Dietary Aide
Cook Sous Chef Executive Chef
General Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Cook Executive Chef General Manager
Food Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Cook Chef Executive Chef
Chef Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Assistant Manager
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Store Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Manager
Food And Beverage Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Driver Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Executive Assistant Assistant Manager
Communications Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Consultant Service Manager
Culinary Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman Owner/Operator
Food Service Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Investigator Case Manager
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Line Cook Chef/Catering Lead Cook
Dietary Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Clinical Manager
Director Of Food And Nutrition Services
9 Yearsyrs
Chef Corporate Executive Chef Kitchen Manager
Assistant Food Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Clerk Administrator Business Office Manager
Director Of Admissions And Marketing
7 Yearsyrs
Chef Culinary Arts Instructor Kitchen Manager
Cafeteria Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Mental Health Worker Residential Supervisor
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Direct Care Staffer Clinician House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Sous Chef Culinary Arts Instructor Food Service Manager
Nutrition Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Sous Chef Culinary Arts Instructor Food Service Supervisor
Certified Dietary Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Institutional Cook 4.0 years
Cook/Baker 3.1 years
Head Cook 3.1 years
Cook/Dietary Aide 3.0 years
Cafeteria Cook 3.0 years
Dietary Cook 2.7 years
Food Service Aide 2.5 years
Diet Aide 2.5 years
Dietary Worker 2.4 years
Dietary Assistant 2.3 years
Cook 2.0 years
Nutrition Aide 2.0 years
Assistant Cook 2.0 years
Dietary Aide 1.9 years
Kitchen Cook 1.8 years
Prep Cook 1.7 years
Kitchen Aide 1.6 years
Fry Cook 1.3 years
Top Careers Before Cook/Dietary Aide
Cashier 19.5%
Dietary Aide 12.4%
Cook 11.0%
Prep Cook 4.0%
Server 3.1%
Waitress 2.7%
Manager 2.7%
Line Cook 2.5%
Internship 1.8%
Top Careers After Cook/Dietary Aide
Cook 16.1%
Cashier 12.7%
Prep Cook 4.8%
Server 3.8%
Line Cook 3.2%
Manager 2.2%

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Top Skills for A Cook/Dietary Aide

  1. Meal Trays
  2. Kitchen Equipment
  3. Food Preparation
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Helped serve meal trays, Busted all tables of dirty dishes, washed all dishes used to perform meal.
  • Conducted daily inspections and maintained food sanitation and kitchen equipment safety reports.
  • Maintained cleanliness and sanitation of food preparation areas.
  • Prepare dining area, prep food and drinks, cook quality food, prepare meal tickets, prepare and serve dining hall
  • Monitored food distribution, ensured meals were delivered to the correct recipients and that guidelines for special diets were followed.

Cook/Dietary Aide Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 8,051 Cook/Dietary Aide resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Cook/Dietary Aide Resume

View Resume Examples

Cook/Dietary Aide Demographics

Gender

Female

65.1%

Male

23.0%

Unknown

11.9%
Ethnicity

White

68.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.1%

Black or African American

10.3%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.3%

French

6.1%

Tagalog

5.1%

German

3.1%

Polish

3.1%

Portuguese

2.0%

Chinese

2.0%

Hmong

2.0%

Swahili

1.0%

Irish

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Somali

1.0%

Tahitian

1.0%

Russian

1.0%

Dakota

1.0%

Swedish

1.0%

Italian

1.0%
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Cook/Dietary Aide Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.2%

University of North Dakota

8.1%

Kaplan University

7.5%

The Academy

6.6%

Johnson & Wales University

6.3%

University of Florida

5.4%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

4.8%

Everest Institute

4.8%

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

3.9%

Cuyahoga Community College

3.6%

Kirkwood Community College

3.6%

Sinclair Community College

3.3%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.3%

Ashford University

3.3%

Northeast Community College

3.3%

Vincennes University

3.0%

Quinsigamond Community College

3.0%

Davenport University

3.0%

Grand Rapids Community College

2.7%

Ashworth College

2.7%
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Majors

Business

14.5%

Culinary Arts

12.5%

Nursing

9.7%

Medical Assisting Services

9.1%

Health Care Administration

7.7%

General Studies

6.4%

Criminal Justice

6.3%

Accounting

3.9%

Psychology

3.8%

Food And Nutrition

3.5%

Management

3.0%

Hospitality Management

2.8%

Nursing Assistants

2.5%

Cosmetology

2.3%

Education

2.2%

Pharmacy

2.1%

Dietetics

2.1%

Human Services

2.0%

Liberal Arts

1.9%

Computer Science

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

43.9%

Associate

20.7%

Bachelors

16.8%

Certificate

10.0%

Diploma

5.1%

Masters

2.4%

License

1.1%
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