Cold Food Preparer: Employment Info for a Career in Cold Food Preparing

Cold food preparers work in a number of environments, including restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, grocery stores, and businesses, where they prepare cold food items. Find out about the job duties, training requirements, the wage and employment outlook, and learn more about how to start a career as a cold food preparer.

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Career Definition for a Cold Food Preparer

Cold food preparers make dishes that can be stored and sold quickly and easily. Common duties of cold food preparers include cutting and chopping vegetables, slicing meat, making spreads and mayonnaise, weighing and measuring ingredients, composing salads, making sandwiches, packaging foods, and other duties as needed.

Required Education A high school diploma improves employment prospects
Job Duties Slicing meat, making spreads and mayonnaise, composing salad
Median Salary (2015)* $20,180 (all food preparation workers)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% growth (all food preparation workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

While there generally aren't strict educational requirements for a career in food preparation, having a high school diploma may help you find employment in this field, and food preparing jobs may require having a food handler's card. Most of the skills you'll need to become a cold food preparer will be learned on the job. Those looking to advance in the food preparation industry should consider taking culinary school courses.

Required Skills

To succeed as a cold food preparer, you'll need a strong knowledge of safe handling and food storage and preparation guidelines. Basic math and communications skills will also be helpful in a career in food preparation.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for food preparation is fair; data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),, show that employment in this field will grow slower than average, at 6% from 2014-2024. Median hourly earnings of food preparation workers, including cold food preparers, were $9.70 in May 2015, and median salary for that year was $20,180 per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Food and Beverage Serving and Related Worker

Even before completion of high school, these workers can be trained on the job to perform duties in places like restaurants and cafeterias, such as cleaning, customer service and food preparation. During the 2014-2024 decade, average employment growth of 10% was predicted by the BLS, and a median hourly wage of $9.16 or a salary of $19,040 a year was reported in 2015.


Some cooks attend culinary programs or take part in apprenticeships, while others learn their skills on the job. They prepare foods such as salads, soups and entrees in restaurants, private homes, hospitals and schools. In 2015, the BLS revealed an hourly median wage of $10.44 or a salary of $21,720 a year and projected slower-than-average job growth of 4% between 2014 and 2024.

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