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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 Prep Cook
Top Careers After Prep Cook
Hispanic or Latino12.8%
Black or African American0.5%
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Johnson & Wales University14.2%
University of Phoenix11.8%
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts10.4%
Delgado Community College6.4%
Culinary Institute of America4.9%
Southern New Hampshire University4.3%
Pima Community College4.0%
Community College of Allegheny County3.4%
Community College of Philadelphia3.4%
Grand Rapids Community College3.3%
Sinclair Community College3.1%
Miami Dade College3.1%
Hinds Community College3.1%
Lansing Community College3.1%
Santa Rosa Junior College3.0%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Prep Cook||Fuzzy Corp||Falmouth, MA||May 02, 2016||$27,694|
|Line/Prep Cook||Wade Hampton Golf Club, Inc.||Cashiers, NC||Apr 20, 2015||$27,131|
|Prep Cook||Black Diamond Resort Co||Healy, AK||Apr 15, 2016||$26,046|
|Prep Cook||Black Diamond Resort Co||Healy, AK||Apr 20, 2016||$26,046|
|Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook||Cho & So Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Sep 28, 2016||$25,584|
|Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook||Cho & So Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Jun 12, 2016||$25,584|
|Prep Cook||Limerick Dining Corp||Limerick, PA||Dec 22, 2016||$25,584|
|Line/Prep Cook||Wade Hampton Golf Club Inc.||Cashiers, NC||Apr 26, 2016||$25,566|
|Sushi Prep Cook||Advance Seong Inc.||Dreher, PA||Dec 01, 2016||$24,981|
|Line/Prep Cooks||L. Jireh, Inc.||Grand Marais, MN||Apr 11, 2016||$24,710|
|Line/Prep Cook||Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club||Orchid, FL||Oct 01, 2016||$24,543|
|Prep Cooks||Woodstock Resort Corporation||Woodstock, VT||Dec 12, 2016||$24,314|
|Prep Cook||Nemacolin Woodlands Resport and Spa||Farmington, PA||May 12, 2016||$24,126|
|Prep Cooks||Woodstock Resort Corporation||Woodstock, VT||Apr 15, 2016||$23,875|
|Prep Cook (Japanese Specialty)||K.T. MODA, Inc.||Glendale, CA||Aug 17, 2015||$17,742|
|Prep Cook||Hyekie Corporation||Port Washington, NY||Apr 12, 2015||$17,430|
|Prep Cook||New Kang Chon Restaurant, Inc.||Centreville, VA||May 19, 2016||$17,222|
|Prep Cook||Vinny's Italian Grill & Pizzeria||Fredericksburg, VA||Jul 27, 2015||$17,104|
|Server/Prep Cook||Angel Fire Resort Operations, LLC||Angel Fire, NM||Nov 01, 2015||$17,072|
|Server/Prep Cook||Angel Fire Resort Operations, LLC||Angel Fire, NM||May 01, 2015||$17,072|
|Prep Cook||Vinny's Italian Grill & Pizzeria||Fredericksburg, VA||Jul 27, 2015||$17,014|
|Prep Cook||Dotombori, Inc.||Oakton, VA||Sep 16, 2015||$17,014|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Houston, LLC||The Woodlands, TX||Apr 04, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Tejas LLC||Corpus Christi, TX||Dec 10, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Tejas LLC||Kingsville, TX||Oct 20, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Houston, LLC||Houston, TX||Oct 21, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Houston, LLC||Lake Jackson, TX||Oct 21, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Tejas LLC||Kingsville, TX||Oct 24, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Houston, LLC||Houston, TX||Nov 16, 2016||$16,744|
|Prep Cook||MUY Pizza Tejas LLC||Robstown, TX||Nov 16, 2016||$16,744|
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