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Food Preparation Workers Job Outlook

Employment of food preparation workers is expected to grow 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

People will continue to eat out and take carry-out meals home. In response, more restaurants will open and nontraditional food service operations, such as those found inside grocery stores, will serve more prepared food dishes. In addition, because preparing fresh and made-from-scratch meals is labor intensive, many chefs at upscale restaurants will require the help of food preparation workers.  

However, a growing number of fast-food restaurants and school and hospital cafeterias are customizing their food orders from wholesalers and distributors in an effort to lower costs. As more food service establishments use these cost-saving strategies, the need for food preparation workers to wash, portion, and season ingredients should be diminished.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for food preparation workers are expected to be good because of the need to replace the large number of workers who leave the occupation each year. Because many of these jobs are part time and pay relatively low wages, turnover in the occupation is fairly high.

Those with related work experience should have the best job opportunities at large or upscale restaurants. However, individuals seeking full-time positions at these kinds of restaurants may face stiff competition, as the number of job applicants usually is greater than the number of job openings.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition