Short Order Cook: Job Description & Requirements

Find out what a short order cook does. Learn about the necessary training and required skills, as well as the salary and employment outlook for this occupation.

Career Definition for a Short Order Cook

Short order cooks prepare food in casual restaurants that focus on fast service, like diners or cafes. These cooks are typically responsible for preparing more than one order at a time, and the menu items are generally simple, such as hamburgers and other sandwiches, eggs and breakfast items, french fries and other fried foods. Restaurants, bars, schools, grocery stores, and other food service establishments employ short order cooks as both part-time and full-time employees.

Education Formal education is not commonly required
Job Skills Communication, dexterity, organization, problem solving
Median Salary (2015) $20,780 (all short order cooks)
Job Growth (2014-2024) -5% (all short order cooks)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

As food handlers, short order cooks must receive training either from their employers, high schools or vocational schools about proper food handling and sanitation techniques. Otherwise, there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a short order cook. According to the Foodservice Interactive Community,, restaurants typically have employee training manuals and handbooks that all employees must follow. Some states require that all restaurant employees possess a state-issued food handler's license.

Skills Required

Short order cooks are natural multi-taskers who can work quickly and efficiently. Working as a short order cook requires tolerating hot kitchen conditions and standing for long periods of time. Many short order cooks speak more than one language in order to communicate with other kitchen staff, wait staff and the restaurant management.

Career and Economic Outlook

Between 2014 and 2024, employment for short order cooks is expected to decline by 5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). New positions will occur as existing cooks leave their jobs for more favorable positions.

On average, in 2015 short order cooks earned $9.99 per hour, a median salary of $20,780, according to the BLS. Nevada, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Washington and Alaska offer the highest-paid short order cook positions, with average hourly wages between $13.08 and $13.24. It should be noted that higher wages are generally offered in areas with high costs of living.

Alternate Career Options

Those seeking employment as short order cooks may consider similar jobs in baking and food preparation.


Those interested in preparing foods might want to explore this job of combining and baking ingredients to make various types of baked goods. No formal training is necessary, and many bakers are trained on the job. Employment for bakers is expected to increase by 7% from 2014-2024, the BLS predicted. Bakers earned an average hourly income of $12.63 in 2015, the BLS said.

Food Preparation Worker

One of the restaurant industry jobs with a fast-as-average employment growth of 6% from 2014-2024 is that of food preparation workers. These individuals need no formal training and learn on the job from cooks and supervisors how to slice meats, peel vegetables, prepare cold foods and make coffee. In 2015, these workers took home an average of $10.60 per hour.

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