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Become A Fast Food Cook

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Working As A Fast Food Cook

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $22,755

    Average Salary

What Does A Fast Food 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.

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How To Become A Fast Food 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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Fast Food Cook Demographics

Gender

Male

68.2%

Female

29.7%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

60.8%

Hispanic or Latino

17.6%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

77.8%

Hmong

11.1%

Thai

11.1%

Fast Food Cook Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.5%

South Texas College

7.5%

Highline Community College

5.0%

Hinds Community College

5.0%

Vance-Granville Community College

5.0%

University of Central Oklahoma

5.0%

Mississippi Delta Community College

5.0%

Dixie State university

5.0%

Trident Technical College

5.0%

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

5.0%

Pearl River Community College

5.0%

Central Carolina Technical College

5.0%

Southwestern Illinois College

5.0%

Florence-Darlington Technical College

5.0%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

5.0%

Art Institute of Washington

5.0%

ITT Technical Institute - Indianapolis

2.5%

Everest University-South Orlando

2.5%

Dickinson State University

2.5%

Miami-Jacobs Career College - Akron

2.5%
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Majors

Criminal Justice

14.2%

Business

13.3%

Education

7.5%

Culinary Arts

6.7%

General Studies

5.8%

Medical Assisting Services

5.0%

Health Care Administration

5.0%

Automotive Technology

5.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.2%

Graphic Design

4.2%

Psychology

3.3%

Pharmacy

3.3%

Precision Metal Working

3.3%

Kinesiology

3.3%

Nursing

3.3%

Management

2.5%

Medical Technician

2.5%

Marketing

2.5%

Finance

2.5%

Computer Science

2.5%
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Degrees

Other

47.8%

Associate

21.7%

Bachelors

14.0%

Certificate

7.7%

Diploma

6.8%

Masters

1.4%

License

0.5%
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Real Fast Food Cook Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Cook, Fast Food Best Coffee House, Inc. Richmond, NY Jul 24, 2015 $29,578
Cooks, Fast Food Best Coffee House, Inc. Richmond, NY Jun 03, 2013 $29,578
Cooks, Fast Food Dell Enterprise Inc. MA Apr 01, 2014 $29,009
Cooks, Fast Food Dell Enterprise Inc. MA May 12, 2014 $29,009
Cook, Fast Food Deli Cross Enterprise, Inc. D/B/A Central Cafe & Deili New York, NY Jul 30, 2008 $29,000
Cook, Fast Food Hop Bo Chinese Restaurant Inc. West Melbourne, FL Aug 22, 2012 $26,800
Cook Fast Food Rose Mary Mateo Jackson, NY Feb 11, 2016 $26,088
Cooks, Specialty Fast Food NLP Nantucket Straight Wharf, LLC Nantucket, MA May 19, 2016 $25,607
Cooks, Fast Food Southend Pizza II Atlantic City, NJ Dec 09, 2010 $25,418
Fast Food Cook The Pumpernickel Deli, LLC Pasadena, CA Jun 11, 2010 $25,274
Cook, Fast Food Roman Delight Pizza of Fox Run Mall Inc. South Burlington, VT Jun 04, 2016 $24,960
Cook, Fast Food Roman Delight Pizza of Fox Run Mall Inc. East Brunswick, NJ Dec 13, 2010 $24,086
Cooks, Fast Food H & S Sprout Brook Inc. DBA Sprout Brook Deli & Pizza NY May 13, 2013 $23,625 -
$11
Cooks, Fast Food Pete & Elda's Bar-Carmen's Pizzeria Neptune City, NJ Feb 28, 2012 $23,442
Cook, Fast Food Specialty Indian Surya Restaurants LLC DBA Naan Stop Goleta, CA Dec 27, 2010 $21,287
Cooks, Fast Food MV 1414 Food, LLC DBA/Pizza Villagio Cafe New York, NY Dec 22, 2011 $21,100
Cooks, Fast Food Mario's Famous Pizza Randolph, NJ Dec 08, 2008 $21,100
Cook, Fast Food Mario's Famous Pizza Randolph, NJ Aug 12, 2008 $21,100
Cooks, Fast Food Orlando Arturo Velarde D/B/A Chick-Fil-A of Hamilt Hamilton, NJ May 05, 2011 $20,953
Cook, Fast Food Edgartown Seafood, Inc. MA Jun 02, 2014 $20,891
Cooks, Fast Food Taurasi Incorporated New York, NY May 29, 2008 $20,870
Cook, Fast Food Mt. Mansfield Company DBA Stowe Mountain Resort VT Nov 15, 2011 $20,870
Cooks, Fast Food Kw Simonton LLC, DBA Cafe Airlie Newark, NY Dec 03, 2010 $19,263
Cooks, Fast Food Pizza King Mount Vernon, NY Aug 26, 2008 $18,992
Cooks, Fast Food Treats R Us, Inc. Paris, TX Nov 21, 2012 $18,783 -
$9
Cook, Fast Food Court Yard Catering & Specialties LLC PA Apr 01, 2012 $18,783
Cook Fast Food Crabtree Concessions Inc. Parker City, IN Jun 07, 2016 $18,783
Cook, Fast Food Manisfield Company, Inc. DBA Stowe Mountain Resor VT Nov 15, 2011 $18,679
Cooks, Fast Food Frank's Pizza Waynesboro, PA May 07, 2013 $18,470
Cooks, Fast Food Tres Bene Italian Delight Quakertown, PA Dec 13, 2010 $18,324 -
$18,470

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Top Skills for A Fast Food Cook

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  1. Safety Standards
  2. Restock Workstations
  3. Cooking Surfaces
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintain sanitation, health, and safety standards in work areas.
  • Clean, stock, and restock workstations and display cases.
  • Clean food preparation areas, cooking surfaces, and utensils.
  • Cleaned and maintained the beverage area, display cases, equipment and order transaction area.
  • Cooked food ordered by customers, working on several different orders simultaneously.

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Top 10 Best States for Fast Food Cooks

  1. Nevada
  2. Wyoming
  3. Vermont
  4. Minnesota
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Washington
  7. Hawaii
  8. Colorado
  9. Nebraska
  10. New Jersey
  • (372 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (71 jobs)
  • (968 jobs)
  • (120 jobs)
  • (752 jobs)
  • (134 jobs)
  • (1,018 jobs)
  • (214 jobs)
  • (826 jobs)

Top Fast Food Cook Employers

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