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Occupational Profile
Apprenticeship

Cook

Cooks prepare food in eating establishments such as hotels, restaurants, institutions, trains and ships.

  • Avg. Salary $29,700.00
  • Avg. Wage $15.96
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook Up
NOC & Interest Codes
The Cook is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Cooks
NOC code: 6242
METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to monitor food and supplier inventory

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to prepare and cook complete meals and individual dishes and foods, and to prepare and cook special meals for patients as instructed by dietitians and chefs

directive

Interest in supervising kitchen helpers; and in overseeing subordinate personnel in the preparation, cooking and handling of food

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 20, 2016

In general, cooks are responsible for nutrition, food costs and sanitation. Depending on the establishment, they may:

  • study menus to estimate food requirements and obtain the necessary food from storage or suppliers
  • wash, peel and cut vegetables
  • clean and cut meats, fish and poultry
  • clean kitchen equipment and cooking utensils 
  • prepare, season and cook foods such as soups, salads, meat, fish, gravies, vegetables, desserts, sauces and casseroles
  • carve meats, prepare portions on plates and add gravies, sauces and garnish to servings
  • bake pastries
  • prepare items for buffets (for example, platters, showpieces)
  • prepare special diets
  • oversee menu planning, regulate stock control and supervise kitchen staff.

While specific duties vary depending on the type of establishment, it is the cook's responsibility to prepare meals that are both appealing and nutritious.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Cooks work under pressure and the work volume can be considerable. Often, they work shifts that include weekends and holidays.

Burns and cuts are common occupational hazards. Cooks may be required to lift and move items that weigh over 25 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Cooks need the following characteristics:

  • fluency in English with reading and writing competency
  • good basic math skills
  • a genuine interest in preparing food
  • good health
  • able to stand for long periods
  • a keen sense of taste and smell
  • flexibility
  • able to work as members of a team
  • willing to maintain the high standard of cleanliness necessary in any food establishment.

They should enjoy being creative.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 20, 2016

To work in Alberta, a cook must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate  
  • someone who works for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of certified journeyperson
  • self-employed.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2 and Math 10-3, or equivalent, or a pass mark in all 5 GED tests, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.  

The term of apprenticeship is three years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training each year. High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Cook apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Lethbridge College
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 20, 2016

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Cooks are employed in hotels, clubs, restaurants, catering firms, cafeterias, institutions, homes, specialty food outlets and isolated camps. Some jobs are seasonal.

Experienced cooks may advance through promotions with the same employer or by moving to more advanced positions with other employers. They can become:

  • sous-chefs, chefs or executive chefs (for more information, see the Chef occupational profile)
  • banquet managers or caterers (for more information, see the Banquet Manager and Caterer occupational profiles)
  • food service administrators and coordinators (for more information, see the Food Service Supervisor and Food and Nutrition Manager occupational profiles)
  • general managers or food editors.

Some experienced cooks achieve a highly respected level of certification, Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC). There are good prospects for travel both within Canada and abroad.

Alberta certified journeyperson cooks who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

In Alberta, 82% of people employed as cooks work in the Accommodation and Food Services (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Accommodation and Food Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 24,900 Albertans are employed in the Cooks occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.4% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 598 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $15 to $25 an hour plus benefits (2014 estimates). Apprentice cooks earn at least 60% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75% in the second and 85% in the third. 

Cooks are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6322: Cooks.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Cooks occupational group earned on average from $14.11 to $18.63 an hour. The overall average wage was $15.96 an hour. For more information, see the Cooks wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Foods
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Personal and Food Services
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 30, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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