Cooks (NOC 6322)

About this job

Cooks prepare, cook and present meals and specialty foods.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • may be responsible for overseeing staff, planning menus or managing kitchen activity
  • may work under the direction of dietitians or chefs
  • work in restaurants, hotels and resorts, hospitals, cruise ships, central food commissaries, educational institutions, catering companies and a wide range of other establishments
  • should be well organized and able to work under pressure
  • enjoy working with their hands and have an interest in preparing food
  • have strong communication and teamwork skills, since they must work within a team of kitchen staff

Apprentice cooks are included in this unit group.

Common job titles
  • cook, construction camp / ship
  • cook, diet kitchen / dietary
  • cook, hospitality
  • cook, journeyman / journeywoman
  • cook, licensed
  • cook, specialty - ethnic / kosher / halal
  • cook, construction camp / ship
  • cook, diet kitchen / dietary
  • cook, hospitality
  • cook, journeyman / journeywoman
  • cook, licensed
  • cook, specialty - ethnic / kosher / halal

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$27,113

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Cooks perform some or all of the following duties:

  • prepare and cook complete meals or individual dishes and foods
  • prepare and cook special meals for patients as instructed by a dietician or chef
  • schedule and supervise kitchen helpers
  • oversee kitchen operations
  • maintain inventory and records of food, supplies and equipment
  • may set up and oversee buffets
  • may clean kitchen and work area
  • may plan menus, determine size of food portions, estimate food requirements and costs, and monitor and order supplies
  • may hire and train kitchen staff
  • may specialize in preparing and cooking ethnic cuisine or special dishes

Work environment

Working hours and conditions for cooks vary depending on the employer. Cooks are often required to work shifts that include early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays. Many employers, such as resorts, may only offer seasonal work.

Large restaurants and institutional kitchens typically have modern equipment and convenient work areas, while older, smaller establishments may have less comfortable work settings. Kitchens must be clean, well ventilated, appropriately lit and properly equipped with sprinkler systems to protect against fires.

Cooks must work in close quarters during busy periods. They must also be able to lift heavy objects, work near hot ovens and grills, and stand for extended periods of time.

Cooks usually work under time pressure, while making sure quality, safety and sanitation guidelines are followed. Job hazards include slipping and falling, cuts and minor burns.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

Completion of secondary school may be required. Other training may include a cooking, culinary arts or related program, although on-the-job training may also be provided.

Trade certification for cooks is available through the Industry Training Authority, but is not mandatory for employment. To be eligible for certification, cooks must complete a three-year apprenticeship program (or a combination of more than three years in the trade and some college or industry courses).

Apprenticeship programs:

  • may be started in secondary school, through entry-level training courses or through direct entry to the workplace
  • require workers to find a sponsor employer who is willing to participate in the program

Interprovincial Standards Red Seal certification is available to qualified cooks through the Industry Training Authority. For more information, please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

Skills

  • Finger Dexterity
  • Spatial Perception
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Motor Coordination
  • Verbal & Written Comprehension
  • Clerical Ability
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Baking/Cooking/Chef Training

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Trades training resources

Visit our trades training page at www.workbc.ca/trades to learn about apprenticeship and trades training in B.C.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
1,300
Average annual employment growth:
0.7%
Expected number of job openings:
360
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
1,030
Average annual employment growth:
0.8%
Expected number of job openings:
250
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
21,040
Average annual employment growth:
1.6%
Expected number of job openings:
7,710
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
770
Average annual employment growth:
1.5%
Expected number of job openings:
270
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
760
Average annual employment growth:
1.0%
Expected number of job openings:
230
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
4,220
Average annual employment growth:
2.0%
Expected number of job openings:
1,610
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
5,570
Average annual employment growth:
1.3%
Expected number of job openings:
1,640

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

Projected increases in population in B.C. may create a higher demand for restaurant and take-out food, which will increase employment opportunities for cooks throughout the province. The growth of two-income families with higher incomes and less time to prepare meals will also likely lead to more people dining out.

The expanding market for good-value and high-quality dining experiences will create demand for a wider range of skills for cooks. Cooks who specialize in preparing ethnic cuisine or special dishes may have an advantage over others looking for work.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Mobility exists among the various types of cooks in this group. Progression to supervisory or more senior positions, such as chef, is possible with experience and training. With extensive experience, some cooks may also choose to open their own restaurants.

Additional resources