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Food Preparation Workers

Food Preparation Workers
Quick Facts : Food Preparation Workers*
2010 Median Pay$19,100
Entry Level EducationLess than high school
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2012813,700
Job Outlook10% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change84,100

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the guidance of cooks or food supervisors. They prepare cold foods, slice meat, peel and cut vegetables, brew coffee or tea, and do many other tasks. Those who work at hotels or full-service restaurants often use soda machines, coffee makers, and espresso and cappuccino machines to prepare beverages for customers.

What Food Preparation Workers Do

  • Clean and sanitize work areas, equipment, utensils, and dishes
  • Weigh or measure ingredients, such as meat and cheeses
  • Prepare fresh condiments, including lettuce, tomatoes, and onions
  • Cut and grind meats, poultry, and seafood to prepare for cooking
  • Take and record temperatures of food and food storage areas

Work Environment

Food preparation workers are employed in restaurants, hotels, and other places where food is served, such as grocery stores, schools, hospitals, and cafeterias. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, or holidays. The majority work part time.
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Job Outlook

Employment of food preparation workers is expected to grow 10 percent from 2010 to 2020 since preparing fresh and made-from-scratch meals is labor intensive, many chefs at upscale restaurants will require the help of food preparation workers.
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In May 2010, the average hourly wage of food preparation workers was $9.18.
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Food Preparation Workers*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Food Preparation Workers


Food Services Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Food Preparation Workers*
Percent Change in Employment

Food Preparation Workers


Food Services Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Food Preparation Workers

Most food preparation workers obtain their skills through short-term on-the-job training, which often lasts several weeks. Many start as kitchen helpers and progress into food preparation positions as they learn basic knife skills. Training generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety regulations and continues with instructions on how to handle, prepare, and cook food.
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