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Average Salary
$24,657
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
36,363
Job Openings

Dietary Cook Careers

Dietary cooks are responsible for preparing and serving meals according to the cycles menu. They monitor food handling methods and perform assigned work and cleaning routines for the dietary department while maintaining compliance with all applicable laws and regulatory and organizational standards. They also cook and serve food that follows specific, predetermined standards and nutritional or dietary guidelines. Dietary cooks earn an average salary of $24,000 annually or $12 per hour.

Dietary cooks are professionals who are passionate about what they do and perform lots of duties. Some of them include preparing food for the residents, assisting any residents that need help eating their meals, and assisting in the clean up, kitchen maintenance, setting up, and taking down the dining areas. They also deliver food to residents' rooms, prepare and serve snacks, and take inventory of food and kitchen supplies.

Dietary cooks typically hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. They are expected to have proven experience with food preparation and nutrition. Some employers prefer candidates with attention to detail, a food handler's card, and in-depth knowledge of the protocols and procedures for their facilities, as well as the rules and regulations for the states where they work.

What Does a Dietary Cook 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.

How To Become a Dietary 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.

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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Average Salary
$24,657
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
36,363
Job Openings

Dietary Cook Career Paths

Top Careers Before Dietary Cook

Cook
18.9 %
Cashier
13.4 %

Top Careers After Dietary Cook

Cook
22.5 %
Cashier
7.5 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Dietary Cook

Dietary Cooks in America make an average salary of $24,657 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $29,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $20,000 per year.
Average Salary
$24,657

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Hopkinsville, KY
Salary Range21k - 27k$24k$24,460
Lake Oswego, OR
Salary Range21k - 27k$24k$24,094
Carmel, IN
Salary Range19k - 24k$22k$21,843
Wichita Falls, TX
Salary Range18k - 23k$21k$20,996
Oklahoma City, OK
Salary Range18k - 23k$21k$20,948
$18k
$27k

Recently Added Salaries

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The Reserves Network
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$25,04403/30/2021
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Prestige Healthcare
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$25,04403/21/2021
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Vivage
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03/19/2021
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$29,53103/19/2021
$29,531
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Nexion Health Management
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$27,13103/17/2021
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Dietary Cook Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Dietary Cook. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Dietary Cook Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Dietary Cook 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.

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Dietary Cook Demographics

Gender

female

63.1 %

male

33.6 %

unknown

3.3 %

Ethnicity

White

61.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

16.0 %

Black or African American

11.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.7 %

French

9.7 %

Tagalog

6.5 %
See More Demographics

Dietary Cook Education

Majors

Business
13.6 %

Degrees

Certificate

31.0 %

High School Diploma

29.6 %

Associate

20.0 %
See More Education Info
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Top Skills For a Dietary 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, 15.7% of dietary cooks listed food service on their resume, but soft skills such as sense of taste and smell and dexterity are important as well.

  • Food Service, 15.7%
  • Kitchen Equipment, 11.2%
  • Diet Orders, 10.4%
  • Menu Items, 9.4%
  • Meal Service, 8.4%
  • Other Skills, 44.9%
  • See All Dietary Cook Skills

Best States For a Dietary Cook

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a dietary cook. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, North Dakota, Massachusetts, and Utah. Dietary cooks make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $39,242. Whereas in North Dakota and Massachusetts, they would average $33,369 and $32,869, respectively. While dietary cooks would only make an average of $32,297 in Utah, 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. Mississippi

Total Dietary Cook Jobs:
608
Highest 10% Earn:
$39,000
Location Quotient:
1.6
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Missouri

Total Dietary Cook Jobs:
1,293
Highest 10% Earn:
$39,000
Location Quotient:
1.23
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Alaska

Total Dietary Cook Jobs:
119
Highest 10% Earn:
$45,000
Location Quotient:
0.8
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Dietary Cook Employers

1. Golden Living
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$23,316
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
41+
2. Healthcare Services Group
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$25,896
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
31+
3. Good Samaritan
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$23,705
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
21+
4. HCR ManorCare
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$23,287
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
19+
5. Rosewood
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$27,938
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
13+
6. National Healthcare
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$23,192
Dietary Cooks Hired: 
12+

Dietary Cook Videos