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Cooking Careers-Cooks, and Food Preparation Workers

Cooking careers are fast paced and demanding. Cooks often work in hot, cramped conditions spending hours on their feet.

What to Expect - Cooking Careers

Cooking careers vary from place to place in accordance to specific needs and demands. Cooks and food preparation workers are found in restaurants, schools, hospitals, prisons, and other places where food is prepared and served for small groups to large gatherings.

The specific duties and responsibilities of the cooks or food preparation workers vary place to place according to the menu, demands, and guests. Cooks are generally responsible for:

•Measuring ingredients
•Mixing ingredients
•Preparing meals in accordance to recipes
•Using various equipment such as grills, ovens, broilers, and anything else as needed.

Food preparation workers assist the cooks in whatever is needed. They usually take orders from the cooks and chefs in the kitchen and are often in training for other positions. The duties of these workers vary but can include:

•Slicing
•Dicing
•Preparing cold items such as salads and sandwiches
•Weighing out ingredients
•Retrieving anything that is asked for by the chef or other cooks
•Stirring
•Grinding meat
•Preparing plates
•Cleaning work areas and stations

In many restaurants and food service establishments cooks are often assigned to specific stations. Often time cooks will advance through the kitchen and receive new stations that require added concentration and skill. Titles like fry cook or grill cook are used to note which station that individual is assigned to.

Cooking careers require an ability to handle a fast paced, stressful environment. Cooks and food preparation workers are responsible for creating dishes that are consistently high quality in a limited amount of time.

The hours cooking careers demand vary and are often focused around three services; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cooks and food preparation workers are required to arrive hours before the start of one of these services to prepare for that service and are then required to stay afterwards to clean and put away items.

Education, Training, and Certification - Cooking Careers

For the most part, for those seeking cooking careers, on the job training is all that is necessary. Typical restaurants, diners, and certainly fast food establishments do not require any formal training. Many individuals who wish to become cooks will start out as food preparation workers in order to learn the kitchen and how to prepare dishes.

For those who want more out of their cooking careers there are several institutions that offer formal training. Cooking schools and vocational institutions are often the best way to receive training in more advanced areas of food preparation. There you will be able to focus on cooking as an art form focusing on taste combinations, presentation, and tradition.

Many of these culinary institutions are accredited by the American Culinary Federation and feature programs that can last up to two years. There are several certifications that you can receive in order to ensure higher pay and the opportunity to work at more upscale establishments. These certifications like the ServSafe are also required should you wish to take on a management role at a restaurant or fast food establishment.

Employment Options- Cooking Careers

Cooking careers exist in nearly every faucet of life. Cafeterias, hospitals, restaurants, bars that serve food, delis, diners, fast food franchises, and other similar places all require cooks and food preparation workers.

Even affluent members of society employ private cooks and chefs to prepare meals.

Employment Outlook - Cooking Careers

Cooking careers continue to grow due to the high turnover rate of the industry. Normally, cooks and food preparation workers are young and often leave the industry for other areas of work and study.

There will always be a demand for ready-made meals and for the enjoyment of eating out. This means that there will always be a need for skilled cooks and food preparation workers.

Projected Salary - Cooking Careers

The starting salary of cooking careers often depends on the position, location, and type of food prepared. Food preparation workers can expect salary increases with promotions and those with specialized certifications will receive a higher starting salary than those untrained.

While the average cook will receive minimum wage they can expect to earn more with experience, skill, and time spent at a particular establishment.

The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor  Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013  ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Material "Adapted"

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