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Food Preparation Workers
SOC Code: 35-2021.00

Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.

Sample of reported job titles: Deli Clerk (Delicatessen Clerk), Diet Aide, Dietary Aide, Dietary Assistant, Food Preparer, Food Service Aide, Food Service Worker, Nutrition Aide, Pantry Cook, Slicer


  • Clean and sanitize work areas, equipment, utensils, dishes, or silverware.
  • Store food in designated containers and storage areas to prevent spoilage.
  • Portion and wrap the food, or place it directly on plates for service to patrons.
  • Take and record temperature of food and food storage areas, such as refrigerators and freezers.
  • Prepare a variety of foods, such as meats, vegetables, or desserts, according to customers' orders or supervisors' instructions, following approved procedures.
  • Place food trays over food warmers for immediate service, or store them in refrigerated storage cabinets.
  • Package take-out foods or serve food to customers.
  • Stock cupboards and refrigerators, and tend salad bars and buffet meals.
  • Wash, peel, and cut various foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to prepare for cooking or serving.
  • Carry food supplies, equipment, and utensils to and from storage and work areas.
  • Distribute food to waiters and waitresses to serve to customers.
  • Cut, slice or grind meat, poultry, and seafood to prepare for cooking.
  • Remove trash and clean kitchen garbage containers.
  • Receive and store food supplies, equipment, and utensils in refrigerators, cupboards, and other storage areas.
  • Weigh or measure ingredients.
  • Inform supervisors when equipment is not working properly and when food and supplies are getting low, and order needed items.
  • Assist cooks and kitchen staff with various tasks as needed, and provide cooks with needed items.
  • Add cutlery, napkins, food, and other items to trays on assembly lines in hospitals, cafeterias, airline kitchens, and similar establishments.
  • Use manual or electric appliances to clean, peel, slice, and trim foods.
  • Scrape leftovers from dishes into garbage containers.
  • Load dishes, glasses, and tableware into dishwashing machines.
  • Make special dressings and sauces as condiments for sandwiches.
  • Mix ingredients for green salads, molded fruit salads, vegetable salads, and pasta salads.
  • Operate cash register, handle money, and give correct change.
  • Keep records of the quantities of food used.
  • Vacuum dining area and sweep and mop kitchen floor.
  • Assemble meal trays with foods in accordance with patients' diets.
  • Distribute menus to hospital patients, collect diet sheets, and deliver food trays and snacks to nursing units or directly to patients.
  • Stir and strain soups and sauces.
  • Butcher and clean fowl, fish, poultry, and shellfish to prepare for cooking or serving.
  • Prepare and serve a variety of beverages such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

Technology Skills

  • Data base user interface and query software - CBORD NetRecipe; Culinary Software Services ChefTec; MicroBlast Recipe Wizard for Windows; ValuSoft MasterCook (see all 11 examples)
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Video creation and editing software - YouTube

Tools Used

  • Belt conveyors
  • Cappuccino or espresso machines - Cappuccino machines; Espresso machines
  • Carbonated beverage dispenser - Soda machines
  • Commercial use blenders - Blenders
  • Commercial use broilers - Charbroilers
  • Commercial use coffee grinders - Coffee grinders
  • Commercial use coffee or iced tea makers - Coffee brewing machines
  • Commercial use cotton candy machines or accessories - Cotton candy machines
  • Commercial use cutlery - Knives
  • Commercial use deep fryers - Electric fryers
  • Commercial use dishwashers - Commercial dishwashers; Dishwashing machines
  • Commercial use dough machines - Dough mixers
  • Commercial use food choppers or cubers or dicers - Choppers; Dicers
  • Commercial use food grinders - Electric meat grinders
  • Commercial use food processors - Food processors
  • Commercial use food slicers - Bread slicers; Electric meat and cheese slicers; Tomato slicers
  • Commercial use food warmers - Steam tables
  • Commercial use griddles - Griddles
  • Commercial use grills - Grills
  • Commercial use measuring cups - Measuring utensils
  • Commercial use microwave ovens - Commercial microwave ovens
  • Commercial use mixers - Commercial stand mixers; Mixing machines
  • Commercial use ovens - Brick ovens; Commercial cooking ovens
  • Commercial use pizza ovens - Pizza ovens
  • Commercial use popcorn machines - Popcorn machines
  • Commercial use ranges - Commercial ranges
  • Commercial use rotisseries - Electronic chicken rotisseries
  • Commercial use scales - Combination slicers/electronic portion scales; Food scales; Point of sale POS interface scales; Thermal label printing scales
  • Commercial use steamers - Pressureless steamers
  • Commercial use toasters - Toasters
  • Commercial use woks - Oriental ranges
  • Ice dispensers - Ice machines
  • Ice shaver machines or accessories - Snow cone machines
  • Milkshake machines - Milkshake and smoothie machines
  • Non carbonated beverage dispenser - Drink dispensers
  • Personal computers
  • Point of sale POS terminal - Point of sale POS systems
  • Roasting machinery - Roasting equipment
  • Slush machines - Frozen drink machines
  • Soft serve machines - Frozen custard machines; Soft-serve ice cream machines


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.


  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.


  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.


  • Interest code: RC
    • Realistic - 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.
    • Conventional - 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.

Work Context

  • Spend Time Standing - 76% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Time Pressure - 77% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 66% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 58% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others - 76% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 68% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 54% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 44% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 52% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running - 41% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 61% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 64% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity - 47% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 62% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 34% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 33% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 48% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 47% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 37% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 33% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 39% responded “Very important results.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 41% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 42% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Telephone - 40% responded “Every day.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
45%High school diploma or equivalent
38%Less than high school diploma
13%Post-master's certificate

Work Styles

  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • 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. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $10.93 hourly, $22,730 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 871,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 157,700

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