How to Work As a Cook

A cook prepares foods in restaurants, hospitals, schools and even stores. The position requires the worker to be expert in preparing foods as well as sanitation practices in kitchens. The work can be difficult, but for those who love to prepare and cook foods, the job of a cook is the ideal way to earn a living. The position requires training, skill and knowledge of food preparation techniques and, in some cases, kitchen management.


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    Attend a Training Program. Many cooks learn the trade on the job, but a training course in a vocational or technical school allows the student to learn at a slower pace and master food preparation and cooking techniques.
    • Training programs for cooks in a vocational school include information on food safety such as temperature for food storage, sanitation practices and food handling procedures.
    • A training program may also enhance employment opportunities for those just entering the food preparation field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer cooks with formal training such as a vocational school.
    • Vocational training programs in cooking and food preparation may be available at the high school level as well.
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    Obtain a Health Certificate. States require food preparation workers and cooks obtain a health certificate that indicates they are free of communicable diseases. Check with the state board of health or business licensing division for the requirements of the state.
    • States may require the cook and all food handlers to undergo safe food handling training periodically to work in the field. The training provides the cook with information regarding the safe handling of foods, temperatures, sanitation procedures and storage methods.
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    Become an Apprentice. An apprenticeship program offered by the American Culinary Federation provides the cook in training with an opportunity to learn alongside professional chefs. Students are also able to earn money while learning the cooking trade.
    • Cooks completing the American Culinary Federation apprenticeship program gain a nationally recognized credential that may help land a job as a cook.
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    Search for Employment. Cooks with professional training have an advantage over those without formal training. Use online job boards, employment agencies and classified advertisements to search for cook positions. Network with other cooks and those in the restaurant business to stay abreast of opportunities and openings in the restaurant business.


  • Continue to pursue advanced education in culinary arts while working as a cook to move ahead in the field. A formal education in culinary arts may lead to a chef position.
  • It may be necessary to take a position as a food preparation worker in a restaurant before landing a position as a cook. Positions such as a line cook can help to provide experience in the field while searching for a cook position. A line cook specializes in 1 area of food preparation such as a vegetable cook or grill cook.

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Categories: Hospitality