So, get this - as a cook, you'll spend a lot of your time cooking. Crazy, we know. But that's not all you'll be doing. In addition to the food actually being cooked properly, most people like it to be seasoned. Between the preparation and seasoning, this is where you get to be creative.

When you think of a cook, you probably think of a restaurant setting but in actuality, cooks are needed in a lot of different places, this includes schools, hospitals, and even private households. One thing that is consistent is the inconsistent schedule.

Sometimes you'll work a night shift, other times you'll work super early in the morning. You may even have to work on a holiday. And don't be surprised with a weekend shift. The good news is that formal education isn't really necessary. Sometimes culinary creativity comes naturally.

What Does a Cook Do

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

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How To Become a Cook

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.

Learn More About How To Become a Cook

Cook Job Description

Cooks are primarily responsible for preparing customers' meals, plating nicely, and releasing from the kitchen. They should also be able to plan and keep an inventory of the ingredients and cooking paraphernalia to ensure they do not run out.

Learn more about Cook Job Description

Cook Career Paths

Average Salary for a Cook

Cooks in America make an average salary of $31,803 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $40,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $25,000 per year.
Average Cook Salary
$31,803 Yearly
$15.29 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Cook

The role of a cook includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general cook responsibilities:

  • Forget the late nights and frozen food. As a brookdale cook you"ll join a team of kitchen pros, making meals from scratch on a set schedule that lets you have a life. You"ll find opportunities to earn baking certifications, attend culinary road shows
  • Prep and prepare recipes consistently, efficiently,
  • The ability and willingness to take independent action

There are several types of cook, including:

Line Cook


As a sort of in-charge person, line cooks definitely have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. While you might think the head chef does most of the heavy lifting, think again. The majority of the food is prepared by the line cook.

Now, the head chef, or even the sous chef, give line cooks the direction they need to make the food. Typically, as a line cook, you'll have a particular place in the kitchen that you'll look after. Like, maybe you'll get assigned to the grill, and then you'll be in charge of everything at the grill. Or you might be assigned to the veggie prep area.

Wherever you are assigned, you should be prepared to work some crazy hours. Since you're preparing the food, you'll need at least an hour, if not two, to get everything ready. Once your line is prepped, then you're ready to take on your shift. With that extra 1-2 hours, you'll probably be working around 8-10 hours a shift.

  • Average Salary: $32,894
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Prep Cook


Under the direction of a head chef, you'll know exactly what to prepare for as a prep cook. It is essentially your job to make sure the food and kitchen area is prepped for the creation of delicious meals.

Typically, this is a part-time job. But you might be able to find a full-time position somewhere. In your position, you'll be working in a restaurant, hotel, or another establishment that serves food.

As a prep cook, you won't need much education to get by. In fact, the position doesn't require any formal education, but you will need to go through some training, once you're hired. And when we say training, we mean several weeks of on-the-job training. By the end of it, you'll be a sharp prep cook, ready to slice and dice.

  • Average Salary: $32,292
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Grill Cook


Most people do not know the difference between barbecuing and grilling. The former happens with the lid is closed, having low heat circumvented, whereas the latter happens with the lid up, having high, direct heat from the bottom.

A grill cook is an individual primarily responsible for cooking food on the grill. They are tasked with assembling recipes, conducting food mise en place, and undertaking general maintenance on grilling equipment. Besides that, they also assist in covering the sous chef's cooking duties, as well as managing restaurant areas, such as inventory and payroll.

A high school diploma is a minimum requirement, although some formal culinary education would be preferable. Generally, employers value your work experience over your education qualifications. Grill cooks earn, on average, $12 per hour and offer a niche cooking scene for those who have the passion.

  • Average Salary: $31,895
  • Degree: High School Diploma

States With The Most Cook Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active cook jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where cooks earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Cook Jobs By State

Cook Education

Cook Majors

16.4 %

Cook Degrees

High School Diploma

45.5 %


20.1 %


15.6 %

Top Skills For a Cook

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.4% of cooks listed food handling on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and physical stamina are important as well.

  • Food Handling, 14.4%
  • Food Service, 9.9%
  • Cleanliness, 9.9%
  • Kitchen Equipment, 9.5%
  • Basic Math, 6.8%
  • Other Skills, 49.5%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Cook Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Cook templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Cook resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Cook diversity

Cook Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among cooks, 29.8% of them are women, while 70.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among cooks is White, which makes up 58.1% of all cooks.

  • The most common foreign language among cooks is Spanish at 68.8%.

Online Courses For Cook That You May Like

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Best States For a Cook

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a cook. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, and Massachusetts. Cooks make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $44,295. Whereas in New Jersey and Washington, they would average $37,026 and $36,804, respectively. While cooks would only make an average of $36,549 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Hawaii

Total Cook Jobs: 109
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Connecticut

Total Cook Jobs: 505
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Nevada

Total Cook Jobs: 416
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Cooks

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Top Cook Employers

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Becoming a Cook FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Cook?

It takes 2 years of professional experience to become a cook. That is the time it takes to learn specific cook skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education.

Do Cooks Make Good Money?

No, cooks usually do not make good money. The average annual wage for restaurant cooks is under $30,000. Entry-level positions start at $25,350 per year, while most experienced workers earn $38,090 per year.

How Do I Become A Cook With No Experience?

You can become a cook with no experience by working your way up the kitchen hierarchy. You can start as a dishwasher or a prep cook and make your way to the position you wish to have.

By starting at a lower position in a restaurant, you can build a relationship with management. You are more likely to achieve a cooking position with no experience if you work up to it.

How Do I Start A Career In Cooking?

To start a career in cooking, you will need to go to culinary school. Going to culinary school is especially valuable in learning how to become a cooking professional. If you don't know what area of the field you want to work in most, culinary school is an excellent way to figure that out.

Prep Cook Vs Line Cook

A prep cook is a person who prepares the ingredients for a meal, while a line cook is a person who cooks a meal.

A prep cook is an employee on a kitchen staff team that handles the ingredients that go into making specific dishes from a restaurant's menu. They need to have a basic understanding of cooking and have a strong attention to detail. Tasks of a prep cook include managing inventory of kitchen ingredients, restocking, measuring ingredients, and cleaning duties.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Cook?

To be a cook, you will need qualifications such as culinary experience, knowledge of food safety procedures, and personal training.

Many businesses will not hire a cook that has no experience. It's beneficial to have some experience working in the food industry or a kitchen professionally.

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