Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria

Description: What do they do?

Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Also known as:

Dietary Cook, Dinner Cook, First Cook, Food and Nutrition Services Assistant, School Cook, Cook (Elementary School), Lead Cook, Cook (Dinner), Food Service Specialist, Cook

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Outlook: will there be jobs?

This Occupation is a part of

Bright Outlook Occupations

  • This occupation is projected to have large numbers of job openings.
  • Projected Growth: Average

    Projected Openings: 136800

    Percentage Employed by Industry: 39%

    Projected Employment

    United States

    2014 Employment
    2024 Employment
    Percent Change
    Annual projected job openings

    Typical Wages

    Hourly Wages

    Annual wages for United States in United States

    • $17,840
    • $20,270+
    • $24,750+
    • $30,660+
    • $30,660+

    Annual Wages

    Education and experience: to get started

    These occupations usually require a high school diploma.

    Typical Education

    How much education do most people in this career have?

    Associate's degree


    High school diploma or equivalent


    Bachelor's degree


    Less than high school diploma


    Some college, no degree


    Master's degree


    Doctoral or professional degree

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    Typical Tasks: What You Might do in a Day

    • Clean food preparation areas, facilities, or equipment.
    • Clean tableware.
    • Cook foods.
    • Coordinate activities of food service staff.
    • Cut cooked or raw foods.
    • Determine prices for menu items.
    • Inspect facilities, equipment or supplies to ensure conformance to standards.
    • Maintain food, beverage, or equipment inventories.
    • Monitor food services operations to ensure procedures are followed.
    • Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
    • Plan menu options.
    • Prepare breads or doughs.
    • Prepare foods for cooking or serving.
    • Record operational or production data.
    • Serve food or beverages.
    • Train food preparation or food service personnel.
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    Work Values

      People who work in this occupation generally prize Relationships, but also value Support and Independence in their jobs.

    Required Knowledge

    Customer and Personal Service:

    Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.


    Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

    English Language:

    Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.


    Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

    Food Production:

    Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.

    Production and Processing:

    Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

    Computers and Electronics:

    Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

    Administration and Management:

    Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

    Public Safety and Security:

    Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

    Personnel and Human Resources:

    Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.


    Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.


    Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

    Education and Training:

    Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

    Communications and Media:

    Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

    Philosophy and Theology:

    Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.


    Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

    Engineering and Technology:

    Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

    Foreign Language:

    Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.

    Law and Government:

    Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

    Medicine and Dentistry:

    Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

    Sales and Marketing:

    Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

    Economics and Accounting:

    Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.


    Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.


    Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.


    Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.


    Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

    Building and Construction:

    Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

    Sociology and Anthropology:

    Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

    Therapy and Counseling:

    Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.


    Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.


    Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

    History and Archeology:

    Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.

    Fine Arts:

    Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

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    • People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RC.
    • This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Conventional environments.

    Required Skills

    Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

    Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

    Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

    Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

    Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

    Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.

    Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

    Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

    Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

    Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

    Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

    Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

    Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

    Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

    Management of Material Resources - Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.

    Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.

    Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

    Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

    Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

    Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

    Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.

    Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

    Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

    Management of Financial Resources - Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

    Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

    Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

    Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

    Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

    Equipment Maintenance - Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.

    Programming - Writing computer programs for various purposes.

    Equipment Selection - Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.

    Technology Design - Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.

    Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

    Installation - Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.

    Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

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    Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

    Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

    Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

    Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

    Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

    Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

    Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

    Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

    Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

    Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

    Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

    Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

    Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

    Memorization - The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.

    Speed of Closure - The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.

    Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

    Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.

    Spatial Orientation - The ability to know your location in relation to the environment or to know where other objects are in relation to you.

    Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.

    Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

    Time Sharing - The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).

    Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

    Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

    Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

    Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

    Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.

    Response Orientation - The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.

    Rate Control - The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.

    Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

    Wrist-Finger Speed - The ability to make fast, simple, repeated movements of the fingers, hands, and wrists.

    Speed of Limb Movement - The ability to quickly move the arms and legs.

    Static Strength - The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.

    Explosive Strength - The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.

    Dynamic Strength - The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.

    Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.

    Stamina - The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.

    Extent Flexibility - The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.

    Dynamic Flexibility - The ability to quickly and repeatedly bend, stretch, twist, or reach out with your body, arms, and/or legs.

    Gross Body Coordination - The ability to coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.

    Gross Body Equilibrium - The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.

    Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

    Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.

    Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.

    Night Vision - The ability to see under low light conditions.

    Peripheral Vision - The ability to see objects or movement of objects to one's side when the eyes are looking ahead.

    Depth Perception - The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.

    Glare Sensitivity - The ability to see objects in the presence of glare or bright lighting.

    Hearing Sensitivity - The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.

    Auditory Attention - The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.

    Sound Localization - The ability to tell the direction from which a sound originated.

    Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

    Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

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