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Food Preparation Workers picture    Food Preparation Workers image

Food preparation workers perform a variety of tasks such as preparing vegetables and meats, making salads, weighing and measuring ingredients and stirring sauces. They also arrange the food on serving dishes. Providing pots and pans for chefs and cooks is often part of the job. Those working in cafeterias and large restaurants often work in an assembly line. Also, they're responsible for cleaning work areas and equipment. Food preparation workers are employed in restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores and specialty food stores. They're supervised by chefs and cooks.

Responsibilities

  • Prepare various types of food including meats and vegetables
  • Assist cooks and kitchen staff with a variety of tasks
  • Arrange food on serving dishes
  • Load and run dishwashers
  • Stock shelves and refrigerators
  • Take care of salad bars and buffets
  • Remove trash
  • Prepare beverages
  • Prepare salad dressings and sauces
  • Distribute food to waitresses and waiters
  • Weigh or measure ingredients
  • Package take-out foods
  • Store food
  • Clean equipment, work areas and utensils
  • Inform supervisors when supplies are low
  • Inform supervisors when equipment is not working properly

Job Characteristics

Some restaurants and grocery stores, with food preparation facilities, include modern equipment, air conditioning and spacious work areas. Some restaurants, particularly those located in older buildings, often have small work areas and do not offer the quality work environment provided in newer restaurants. The quality of the work environment in restaurants may vary by the quality and the type of food being served.

They must work quickly, be efficient and work well as part of a team. Good manual dexterity is also important. Food preparers often deal with pressure during busy periods. Standing for long periods of time is also part of the job. In addition, part-time and full-time positions are provided. Variable work schedules are typically available.

Employment Outlook

In 2006 there were approximately 902,000 food preparation jobs and about 44% of the employees worked part-time. Two-thirds of food preparation workers, cooks and chefs worked in restaurants and other food services and drinking establishments. The number of positions for food preparation workers is projected to be plentiful due to the continued growth of the food services industry. The employment of food preparation workers is expected to grow faster than the average of all occupations.

The growth in employment in the industry will occur due to a growing population and the convenience of eating at restaurants and purchasing carry-out meals from a variety of places. Also, a large number of workers leave the occupation and have to be replaced.

Seasonal employment is provided by resorts. Those employed in upscale restaurants typically work more hours per day due to the amount of time required to prepare the ingredients in advance.

The demand for food preparation workers in the meals-to-go business, including meals prepared for grocery stores and specialty food stores is projected to growth faster than average. There has also been an increase in demand for healthier, made-from-scratch meals. However, during economic recessions, people usually eat at restaurants less often which decreases the demand for food preparation employees.

The median annual earnings for food preparation workers in 2006 was $17,410. Those that work full-time often receive benefits. In addition, in some large restaurants and hotels, kitchen workers are members of a union.

Food Preparation Worker Training, Certification, and Licensing

A high school diploma is usually not required. Most food preparation employees receive on-the-job training. The training includes food handling and preparation, basic sanitation and workplace safety. A number of high school and vocational schools provide courses in food safety and food handling procedures. Some school districts, in partnerships with state departments of education offer on-the-job training and summer workshops for cafeteria workers who desire to become cooks. In addition, those that show skills and leadership abilities may advance into supervisory positions. Some also advance into jobs as cook assistants or line cook positions.

Resources

Major Employers

The primary employers for food preparation workers are grocery stores with food preparation facilities, full-service restaurants and limited-service eating venues.

Schools for Food Preparation Workers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Food Preparation Workers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be food preparation workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Service Orientation32.12
Time Management32.25
Speaking32.12
Active Listening32.38
Social Perceptiveness32.12

Food Preparation Workers Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be food preparation workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision3.253
Oral Expression3.122.25
Manual Dexterity3.122.88
Arm-Hand Steadiness3.122.88
Speech Clarity32.25

Food Preparation Workers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be food preparation workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.394.61
Administration and Management3.193.43
Public Safety and Security2.992.2
Food Production2.932.18
English Language2.912.12

Food Preparation Workers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being food preparation workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People4.043.11
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates3.833.92
Handling and Moving Objects3.674.75
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material3.662.88
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships3.664.6

Food Preparation Workers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being food preparation workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Self Control4.09
Cooperation4.04
Integrity4.02
Social Orientation3.93
Attention to Detail3.86

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Food Preparation Workers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Food Preparation Workers jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim38,070 $25,970
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell18,850 $21,130
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach18,420 $24,170
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward17,000 $29,720
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land14,800 $23,670
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington14,500 $22,540
San Diego-Carlsbad11,880 $25,500
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue11,740 $30,730
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale10,140 $23,650
New Orleans-Metairie9,860 $18,710

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to food preparation workers

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Food Preparation Workers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.