Career Definition for a Food Preparation Professional
Food preparation professionals work in the kitchens of grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias and other establishments that prepare food for sale. They assist other employees in assembling and measuring ingredients, stirring soups and sauces or cooking entrees. Food preparation professionals also clean work areas and equipment. Positions in food prep are ideal for high school and college students looking for part-time work, as well as novices looking to advance to full-time careers in the industry.
|Education||On the job training|
|Job Skills||Measure ingredients, cook entrees, clean work area|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$9.70|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||6%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a formal education is not a prerequisite for obtaining a job in the field of food preparation. Short-term training takes place on the job, under the direction of an experienced professional. In addition to introductory kitchen work, new hires will learn about safety and sanitation procedures and regulations.
Food preparation professionals must be efficient and safety-oriented and have good manual dexterity and a keen sense of smell. They must also work well with others and may benefit from being bilingual, depending on the language abilities of their co-workers and clientele. Food preparation professionals must have the physical stamina to spend most of their shift standing.
Career and Salary Outlook
The BLS predicts that jobs for food preparation workers should increase by 6%, as fast as the average, from 2014 to 2024. Many food preparation professionals work part-time or seasonally. The median hourly wage of food preparation professionals in May 2015 was $9.70, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
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Alternate Career Options
Similar career options within this field include being a cook, baker, or worker in the food and beverage serving, and other related industries.
Cooks who are employed by restaurants, private households and schools are responsible for preparing a variety of food and recipes, including entrees, desserts, salads, and soups. A formal education is not required, and most cooks acquire their skills on the job. High school graduates can also pursue culinary training through apprenticeships and vocational schools, which may take a few months or up to two years to complete. According to the BLS, job opportunities for cooks are expected to increase by 4% from 2014-2024 which is slower than the average. As of May 2015, cooks in general were paid median hourly wages of $10.44, with those employed in private households earning $12.65 in the same month (www.bls.gov).
Bakers typically work in commercial and retail shops, groceries, restaurants, and wholesale club stores. Their duties mainly include baking breads, cakes, and pastries. Most people in this profession gain skills through long-term on the job training, but some also choose to study in culinary schools or take apprenticeship programs. The median hourly wage of bakers as of May 2015 was $11.62 per hour. The demand for workers in the baking industry is growing at 7% from 2014-2024 which is as fast as the average for this profession (www.bls.gov).
Food and Beverage Serving and Related Industry Workers
Food and beverage servers, such as waiters and waitresses, are typically employed in fast food and full service restaurants. Their duties can include interacting with customers and taking their orders, preparing and serving simple beverages and food or cleaning work areas and stocking service. Since these are entry-level positions, a high school diploma is not required, and skills are acquired through short-term training in the workplace. Individuals who serve alcoholic drinks have to be at least 18 years old. Through 2024, the BLS has projected a faster than average increase of 10% nationwide for food and beverage workers. People employed in the food and beverage serving, and related industry earned median hourly wages of $9.16 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).