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Feeding large groups of people, for example, at a university or catered event, is not as simple as whipping up a meal for a dinner party. These jobs require dedicated food industry professionals known as food associates.

Foodservice associates obviously need to be very good at preparing food, but that's not all that they do. They also help manage the logistical side of food preparation, such as keeping track of inventory, managing payments, and setting up for events. Foodservice associates also need to be sensitive and considerate of the needs of customers from diverse backgrounds.

Working as a food service associate doesn't require a bachelor's degree. This position does require a lot of physical stamina and excellent communication in order to work with the rest of the team that is working during service. A hard-working food service associate can work themselves up to the position of food service manager.

What Does a Food Service Associate Do

There are certain skills that many food service associates have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed dexterity, listening skills and physical strength.

Learn more about what a Food Service Associate does

How To Become a Food Service Associate

If you're interested in becoming a food service associate, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 35.3% of food service associates have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 2.0% of food service associates have master's degrees. Even though some food service associates have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Food Service Associate

Career Path For a Food Service Associate

In addition to switching up your job search, it might prove helpful to look at a career path for your specific job. Now, what's a career path you ask? Well, it's practically a map that shows how you might advance from one job title to another. Our career paths are especially detailed with salary changes. So, for example, if you started out with the role of certified nursing assistant you might progress to a role such as team leader eventually. Later on in your career, you could end up with the title general manager.

Food Service Associate

Average Salary for a Food Service Associate

Food Service Associates in America make an average salary of $31,642 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $39,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $25,000 per year.
Average Food Service Associate Salary
$31,642 Yearly
$15.21 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Food Service Associate

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

  • Sets up trays with cold and hot food items according to checked requests on menu as tray is assembled on conveyor belt. Loads meal trays onto trucks
  • Assist in inventory control by maintaining organization of coolers, freezers,
  • Patient tray line accurate and timely patient tray assembly

There are several types of food service associate, 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

Food Service Worker


Food service workers are employed in restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, and any other institution that offers dining services, such as schools, hospitals, or prisons. If you want to learn everything about food preparation and what it takes to be a restaurant manager or a top-notch chef, taking on a job as a food service worker is a great place to start.

Your job will be to assist kitchen staff in preparing meals. Your responsibilities include helping to keep the kitchen spotless, prepping ingredients, slicing, dicing, rinsing, and peeling while making sure all safety regulations are respected.

No experience is needed to be hired as a food service worker; you just have to be attentive and organized and respect the authority of your superiors, which in this case is basically everyone in the kitchen.

  • Average Salary: $28,753
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Sous Chef


Chefs are often considered artists, who create culinary masterpieces pleasing to vision and palate alike. Sous chefs are there at every step of the process, assisting the head chef, in a professionally run kitchen, in making the magic happen.

They contribute to creating the menu, making sure every necessary ingredient is in stock and fresh, supervise sanitation, and do everything in their power to reach the expected quality standard of the meals.

Defying stereotypical gender roles, or perhaps adhering to less obvious ones, the sous chef position is primarily filled by men, especially in high-end kitchens. With all the long hours, heat, and a high-pressure working environment, prejudice against women has them framed as not being physically and emotionally strong enough to work in kitchens, and receive fewer opportunities to hold high-status jobs as cooks.

Restaurants behind the scenes are apparently not just the site for exquisite food preparation but prove to be an excellent field for institutionalized sexism as well. Go sous chefettes, it is high time to change this demographic!

  • Average Salary: $48,716
  • Degree: Associate Degree

States With The Most Food Service Associate Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Food Service Associate Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
6New York1,277$34,738
7North Carolina1,101$26,806
12New Jersey882$33,014
19South Carolina638$23,738
35New Hampshire212$32,543
37New Mexico174$23,852
39West Virginia165$25,958
44Rhode Island107$36,285
45South Dakota106$28,026
49North Dakota61$31,405

Food Service Associate Education

Food Service Associate Majors

19.0 %

Food Service Associate Degrees


35.3 %

High School Diploma

33.4 %


19.1 %

Top Skills For a Food Service Associate

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, 14.0% of food service associates listed patients on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and listening skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Food Service Associate Resume templates

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

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Food Service Associate diversity

Food Service Associate Gender Distribution


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

  • Among food service associates, 62.0% of them are women, while 38.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among food service associates is White, which makes up 58.5% of all food service associates.

  • The most common foreign language among food service associates is Spanish at 67.0%.

Online Courses For Food Service Associate That You May Like

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Safety culture is a facet of organizational culture that captures attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values about safety. A culture of safety is essential in high reliability organizations and is a critical mechanism for the delivery of safe and high-quality care. It requires a strong commitment from leadership and staff. In this course, a safe culture is promoted through the use of identifying and reporting patient safety hazards, accountability and transparency, involvement with patients...

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Best States For a Food Service Associate

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a food service associate. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, Washington, Massachusetts, and New York. Food service associates make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $36,285. Whereas in Washington and Massachusetts, they would average $36,177 and $35,941, respectively. While food service associates would only make an average of $34,738 in New York, 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. Maine

Total Food Service Associate Jobs: 160
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. New Hampshire

Total Food Service Associate Jobs: 212
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Connecticut

Total Food Service Associate Jobs: 413
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Food Service Associates

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Top Food Service Associate Employers

Most Common Employers For Food Service Associate

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
2Costco Wholesale$37,970$18.2520
6The Henry Ford$32,810$15.7731
7Bronson Battle Creek Hospital$32,208$15.4829
9Wegmans Food Markets$31,251$15.0252
10Kum & Go$31,109$14.9627