Restaurant Cook

Restaurant cooks usually work in small to medium size full-service restaurants and prepare most orders on an individual basis. They prepare a broader selection of entrees, short-order dishes, and deserts than cafeteria or fast-food cooks.

Job Skills

Certain personal attributes are important for restaurant cooks to possess. These include the ability to work quickly and efficiently, a well-developed sense of taste and smell, good personal hygiene, and a willingness to work with a team. Familiarity with a foreign language may also prove useful in communicating with other workers.


In 2002, restaurant cooks earned a median hourly wage of $9.16. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $6.58 per hour, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $13.21 per hour. The highest median hourly earnings were found in traveler accommodation, and the lowest were found in limited-service eating places.

Training and Education

Most restaurant cook positions require little, if any, training or education. Entry-level positions do not require a high-school diploma; however, a diploma could be beneficial for those interested in a career as a cook. Most restaurant cooks are trained on the job. Training ranges from basic sanitation and safety, to food handling and cooking techniques. Vocational schools can also provide a solid training base.


Out of the nearly 3 million culinary jobs in 2002, about 727,000 people were employed as restaurant cooks.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of restaurant cooks is expected to increase at a rate similar to the average. Much of this increase will come in the form of casual, rather than high-end, restaurants. This is due to trends such as larger expense accounts, more family restaurants, and a growing number of away-from-home meals. Competition for jobs in the kitchens of more expensive restaurants is expected to be fierce.

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