a dark blue TraitLab logo
Pricing Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Food Service Worker

Also known as Cafeteria Cook, Chef, Cook, Dietary Cook, Dinner Cook, Food Service Specialist, Food Service Worker, Prep Cook (Preparatory Cook), School Cook, Sous Chef

Food Service Worker

Also known as Cafeteria Cook, Chef, Cook

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Social
Pay Range
$19,860 - $41,580 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Monitoring
  • Service Orientation
Knowledge Areas
  • Food Production
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Monitor and record food temperatures to ensure food safety.
  • Cook foodstuffs according to menus, special dietary or nutritional restrictions, or numbers of portions to be served.
  • Rotate and store food supplies.
Is Food Service Worker the right career path for you?

Would Food Service Worker be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Food Service Worker and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Food Service Worker do?

Food Service Workers prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

What kind of tasks does a Food Service Worker perform regularly?

Food Service Workers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Monitor and record food temperatures to ensure food safety.
  • Cook foodstuffs according to menus, special dietary or nutritional restrictions, or numbers of portions to be served.
  • Rotate and store food supplies.
  • Wash pots, pans, dishes, utensils, or other cooking equipment.
  • Apportion and serve food to facility residents, employees, or patrons.
  • Clean and inspect galley equipment, kitchen appliances, and work areas to ensure cleanliness and functional operation.
  • Clean, cut, and cook meat, fish, or poultry.
  • Direct activities of one or more workers who assist in preparing and serving meals.
  • Train new employees.
  • Take inventory of supplies and equipment.
  • Requisition food supplies, kitchen equipment, and appliances, based on estimates of future needs.
  • Bake breads, rolls, or other pastries.

The above responsibilities are specific to Food Service Workers. More generally, Food Service Workers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Food Service Worker salary?

The median salary for a Food Service Worker is $28,650, and the average salary is $29,940. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Food Service Worker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Food Service Workers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Food Service Workers earn less than $19,860 per year, 25% earn less than $23,320, 75% earn less than $35,020, and 90% earn less than $41,580.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Food Service Workers is expected to change by 6.8%, and there should be roughly 61,600 open positions for Food Service Workers every year.

Median annual salary
$28,650
Typical salary range
$19,860 - $41,580
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.8%

What personality traits are common among Food Service Workers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Food Service Worker are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Food Service Workers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Food Service Workers typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Food Service Worker tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Food Service Workers strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Food Service Workers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Food Service Workers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Food Service Workers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, attention to detail, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Food Service Workers, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Food Service Workers need?

Working as a Food Service Worker usually requires a high school diploma.

Food Service Workers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Food Service Workers

  • 27.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 41.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 18.5% completed some college coursework
  • 6.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 5.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Food Service Workers

Food Service Workers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as food production, customer and personal service, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Food Service Workers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Important Abilities needed by Food Service Workers

Food Service Workers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Food Service Workers need abilities such as oral expression, near vision, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Food Service Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Food Service Workers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Food Service Workers frequently use skills like speaking, monitoring, and service orientation to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Food Service Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.