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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:
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Line Cook
Top Careers After Line Cook
Hispanic or Latino12.7%
Black or African American0.5%
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Johnson & Wales University24.7%
Culinary Institute of America14.0%
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts11.7%
University of Phoenix6.9%
Southern New Hampshire University3.6%
Delgado Community College3.4%
Kirkwood Community College3.0%
Grand Rapids Community College2.7%
New England Culinary Institute2.7%
West Virginia University2.6%
Arizona Culinary Institute2.5%
Johnson County Community College2.4%
Trident Technical College2.4%
Appalachian State University2.4%
Pennsylvania State University2.4%
Anne Arundel Community College2.4%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Line Cook||Wianno Club, Inc.||MA||May 07, 2016||$52,801|
|Line Cook||The Black Bass Hotel Associates, Inc.||Summerville, PA||Aug 10, 2015||$33,259|
|Restaurant Line Cook||Little House CAFE, Inc.||Vineyard Haven, MA||Apr 26, 2016||$31,827|
|Line Cook||Boarding House, Inc.||Nantucket, MA||Apr 28, 2016||$31,806|
|Line Cooks||Douglas Island Development||Oak Bluffs, MA||Jun 03, 2016||$31,806|
|Prep/Line Cook||West End Ale House and Oyster Bar LLC||Provincetown, MA||May 01, 2016||$31,806|
|Line Cooks||Dredlock Holidays, Inc.||Nantucket, MA||Apr 01, 2016||$31,806|
|Line Cook||The Westmoor Club||Nantucket, MA||May 15, 2016||$31,806|
|Line Cook||P&G Foods Inc.||Somerville, MA||Apr 29, 2016||$31,034|
|Line Cook||Glen Oaks Club, Inc.||Old Westbury, NY||May 01, 2016||$31,013|
|Line Cook||BESH Restaurant Group||New Orleans, LA||Nov 15, 2015||$30,262|
|Line Cook 2||Hermitage Club LLC||Dover, VT||Dec 04, 2016||$29,990|
|Line Cooks||V.R.'s Inc.||Wellfleet, MA||Apr 15, 2016||$29,969|
|Line Cook||Baltusrol Golf Club||Springfield, NJ||May 01, 2016||$29,907|
|Line Cook||Andrea Hotel, Inc.||Westerly, RI||May 05, 2016||$28,028|
|Line Cook||The Ocean House and The Weekapaug Inn||Watch Hill, RI||May 01, 2016||$28,028|
|Line Cook||Gleneagles Country Club||Delray Beach, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,841|
|Line Cook||Frenchman's Reserve Country Club||Palm Beach Gardens, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,841|
|Line Cook||Destination Stowe Hotel, Inc.||Stowe, VT||Jun 01, 2015||$27,820|
|Line Cook||Destination Stowe Hotel, Inc.||Stowe, VT||Jul 01, 2016||$27,820|
|Line Cook||5 Stars Restaurant Group Inc.||Framingham, MA||Jan 02, 2015||$27,726|
|Line Cook II||Wianno Club, Inc.||MA||May 20, 2016||$27,694|
|Line Cook||Sailfish Point Property Owners and Country Club Association, Inc.||Stuart, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Table 26 Ltd||West Palm Beach, FL||Oct 24, 2015||$27,131 -
|Line Cook||Ibis Golf & Country Club, Inc.||West Palm Beach, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Wycliffe Golf and Country Club, Inc.||Wellington, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Colleton River Plantation Club Inc.||Bluffton, SC||Oct 12, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Lake Shore Country Club||Glencoe, IL||May 15, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Windsor Club||Vero Beach, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$27,131|
|Line Cook||Table 26 Ltd||West Palm Beach, FL||Oct 24, 2016||$27,131 -
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