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Become A Prep Cook

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Working As A Prep 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

  • $18,535

    Average Salary

What Does A Prep Cook Do

A Prep Cook assists in the preparation of various dishes in the kitchen. Their primary duties include setting work stations, preparing cooking ingredients, labeling and stocking all ingredients on shelves, and other duties as assigned.

How To Become A Prep 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.


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.


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.


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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Prep Cook jobs

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Real Prep Cook Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Line/Prep Cook Wade Hampton Golf Club, Inc. Cashiers, NC Apr 20, 2015 $27,131
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 28, 2016 $25,584
Prep Cook Limerick Dining Corp Limerick, PA Dec 22, 2016 $25,584
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Jun 12, 2016 $25,584
Sushi Prep Cook Advance Seong Inc. Dreher, PA Dec 01, 2016 $24,981
Prep Cook Taco Beach, Inc. Long Beach, CA Feb 22, 2016 $23,254
Prep Cook Taco Beach, Inc. Long Beach, CA Sep 08, 2015 $23,254
Prep Cook 512 Main Street Inc. Chatham, MA Apr 01, 2015 $23,228
Prep Cooks Slackman, Inc. Wellfleet, MA May 08, 2015 $23,228
Prep Cooks JJG Chatham, Inc. Chatham, MA May 01, 2015 $23,228
Prep Cook Pamet Restaurant Group, Inc. Truro, MA May 01, 2015 $23,228
Prep Cook Chebeague Island Inn LLC Chebeague Island, ME May 08, 2015 $23,020
Line/Prep Cooks L. Jireh, Inc. Grand Marais, MN May 01, 2015 $21,642
Prep Cook RBDD Cliff House Acquisition York, ME May 15, 2015 $21,559
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 May 01, 2015 $17,072
Server/Prep Cook Angel Fire Resort Operations, LLC Angel Fire, NM Nov 01, 2015 $17,072
Prep Cook Vinny's Italian Grill & Pizzeria Fredericksburg, VA Jul 27, 2015 $17,014

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Top Skills for A Prep Cook


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Top Prep Cook Skills

  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Customer Service Skills
  3. Specific Food Items
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Scrubbed and organized kitchen equipment.
  • Demonstrated excellent customer service skills to a variety of different customers.
  • Measured ingredients required for specific food items being prepared.
  • Wash dishes and prep food.
  • Bus Boy - Clean & Set Tables, Keep Restaurant Clean Dishwasher - Wash Dishes And Keep Area Sanitized

Prep Cook Videos

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