Food Preparation Workers
SOC: 35-2021.00


Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
873,900 employed

Projected (2024):
928,800 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Assistant Cook
  • Baker
  • Baker Helper
  • Bakery Helper
  • Cafeteria Aide
  • Cafeteria Worker
  • Cartperson
  • Carver
  • Caterer
  • Caterer Helper
  • Catering Assistant
  • Chicken and Fish Butcher
  • Coffee Brewer
  • Coffee Maker
  • Cold Meat Cook
  • Cook
  • Cook Helper
  • Cook's Helper
  • Crew Mess Attendant
  • Culinary Worker
  • Deli Clerk (Delicatessen Clerk)
  • Deli Slicer
  • Delicatessen Cutter Slicer
  • Diet Aide
  • Diet Kitchen Worker
  • Dietary Aide
  • Dietary Assistant
  • Dietary Cook
  • Dietary Patient Aide
  • Expeditor
  • Food Assembler, Kitchen
  • Food Handler
  • Food Order Expediter
  • Food Preparation Kitchen Aide
  • Food Preparation Worker
  • Food Preparer
  • Food Server
  • Food Service Aide
  • Food Service Specialist
  • Food Service Utility Worker
  • Food Service Worker
  • Food Tray Assembler
  • Fruit and Vegetable Parer
  • Hospital Tray Aide
  • Kitchen Assistant
  • Kitchen Clerk
  • Kitchen Hand
  • Kitchen Helper
  • Kitchen Lead
  • Kitchen Runner
  • Kitchen Staff
  • Kitchen Utility Associate
  • Kitchen Worker
  • Line Cook
  • Line Server
  • Lineman
  • Meat Clerk
  • Mess Attendant
  • Nutrition Aide
  • Nutrition Helper
  • Nutritional Services Aide
  • Pantry Cook
  • Pantry Goods Maker
  • Pantry Goods Worker
  • Pantry Worker
  • Parer
  • Pastry Cook Helper
  • Peeler
  • Pie Cutter
  • Prep Cook (Preparation Cook)
  • Produce Production Team Member
  • Raw Shellfish Preparer
  • Restaurant Worker
  • Salad Bar Clerk
  • Salad Maker
  • Sandwich Artist
  • Sandwich Maker
  • Seafood Preparer
  • Slicer

  • Job Zone One: Little or No Preparation Needed


    Little or no previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, a person can become a waiter or waitress even if he/she has never worked before.


    Some of these occupations may require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

    Job Training:

    Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few days to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker could show you how to do the job.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Equipment Selection
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Troubleshooting
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Food Production
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Foreign Language
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • Store food in designated containers and storage areas to prevent spoilage.
  • Package take-out foods or serve food to customers.
  • Portion and wrap the food, or place it directly on plates for service to patrons.
  • Place food trays over food warmers for immediate service, or store them in refrigerated storage cabinets.
  • Weigh or measure ingredients.
  • Assist cooks and kitchen staff with various tasks as needed, and provide cooks with needed items.
  • Receive and store food supplies, equipment, and utensils in refrigerators, cupboards, and other storage areas.
  • Stock cupboards and refrigerators, and tend salad bars and buffet meals.
  • Remove trash and clean kitchen garbage containers.
  • Prepare and serve a variety of beverages such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
  • Carry food supplies, equipment, and utensils to and from storage and work areas.
  • Make special dressings and sauces as condiments for sandwiches.
  • Scrape leftovers from dishes into garbage containers.
  • Use manual or electric appliances to clean, peel, slice, and trim foods.
  • Stir and strain soups and sauces.
  • Distribute food to waiters and waitresses to serve to customers.
  • Keep records of the quantities of food used.
  • Load dishes, glasses, and tableware into dishwashing machines.
  • Butcher and clean fowl, fish, poultry, and shellfish to prepare for cooking or serving.
  • Cut, slice or grind meat, poultry, and seafood to prepare for cooking.
  • Add cutlery, napkins, food, and other items to trays on assembly lines in hospitals, cafeterias, airline kitchens, and similar establishments.
  • Mix ingredients for green salads, molded fruit salads, vegetable salads, and pasta salads.
  • Distribute menus to hospital patients, collect diet sheets, and deliver food trays and snacks to nursing units or directly to patients.
  • Clean and sanitize work areas, equipment, utensils, dishes, or silverware.
  • Prepare a variety of foods, such as meats, vegetables, or desserts, according to customers' orders or supervisors' instructions, following approved procedures.
  • Take and record temperature of food and food storage areas, such as refrigerators and freezers.
  • Wash, peel, and cut various foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to prepare for cooking or serving.
  • Inform supervisors when equipment is not working properly and when food and supplies are getting low, and order needed items.
  • Operate cash register, handle money, and give correct change.
  • Vacuum dining area and sweep and mop kitchen floor.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Belt conveyors
  • Blenders
  • Bread slicers
  • Brick ovens
  • Cappuccino machines
  • Charbroilers
  • Choppers
  • Coffee brewing machines
  • Coffee grinders
  • Combination slicers/electronic portion scales
  • Commercial cooking ovens
  • Commercial dishwashers
  • Commercial microwave ovens
  • Commercial ranges
  • Commercial stand mixers
  • Cotton candy machines
  • Dicers
  • Dishwashing machines
  • Dough mixers
  • Drink dispensers
  • Electric fryers
  • Electric meat and cheese slicers
  • Electric meat grinders
  • Electronic chicken rotisseries
  • Espresso machines
  • Food processors
  • Food scales
  • Frozen custard machines
  • Frozen drink machines
  • Griddles
  • Grills
  • Ice machines
  • Knives
  • Measuring utensils
  • Milkshake and smoothie machines
  • Mixing machines
  • Oriental ranges
  • Personal computers
  • Pizza ovens
  • Point of sale POS interface scales
  • Point of sale POS systems
  • Popcorn machines
  • Pressureless steamers
  • Roasting equipment
  • Snow cone machines
  • Soda machines
  • Soft-serve ice cream machines
  • Steam tables
  • Thermal label printing scales
  • Toasters
  • Tomato slicers
  • Barrington Software CookenPro Commercial
  • CBORD Foodservice Suite
  • CBORD NetRecipe
  • Culinary Software Services ChefTec
  • EGS CALCMENU software
  • IPro software
  • Master Cook Deluxe Professional Cook
  • MealMaster software
  • MicroBlast Recipe Wizard for Windows
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Recipe software
  • ValuSoft MasterCook

  • food preparation and serving related

    industry stats

    SOC: 35-0000

    Total Employed: 12,577,080

    Average Annual Salary: $22,850