Food Preparation Workers

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Social: 9
  • Purpose: 5
  • Creative: 2
  • Supported: 2
  • Analytical: 0

What Food Preparation Workers Do

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the direction of cooks, chefs, or food service managers. Food preparation workers prepare cold foods, slice meat, peel and cut vegetables, brew coffee or tea, and perform many other food service tasks.

Work Environment

Food preparation workers are employed in restaurants, hotels, and other places where food is served, such as cafeterias, grocery stores, hospitals, and schools. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, or holidays. About 1 in 2 worked part time in 2014.

How to Become a Food Preparation Worker

Food preparation workers learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting several weeks. No formal education or previous work experience is required.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Food preparation workers

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of food preparation workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities are expected to be very good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation every year.

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    Growth & Trends

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    This occupation supported 807,800 jobs in 2012 and 873,900 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 8.2%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 3.6% in 2022 to 836,700 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 813,500, compared with an observed value of 873,900, 7.4% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 6.8% in 2024 to 928,800 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 842,400 jobs for 2024, 9.3% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.