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How to Become a Food Preparation Worker

Short-term on-the-job training is the most common way to learn the skills necessary for food preparation workers. No formal education or previous work experience is required.  


Most food preparation workers obtain their skills through short-term on-the-job training, which often lasts several weeks. Many start as kitchen helpers and progress into food preparation positions as they learn basic knife skills. Training generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety regulations and continues with instructions on how to handle, prepare, and cook food.


Advancement opportunities for food preparation workers depend on their training, work experience, and ability to do more refined tasks. Many food preparation workers move into assistant or line cook positions as they learn basic cooking techniques.

Important Qualities

Listening skills. To help cooks, food preparation workers must be able to understand specific orders and follow directions.

Manual dexterity. Because food preparation workers chop vegetables, cut meat, and do other tasks with sharp knives, they must have good hand control.

Stamina. Food preparation workers must be able to spend most of their work time on their feet as they prepare foods, clean work areas, or lift heavy pots from the stove.

Teamwork. The fast-paced environment in kitchens can be hectic and stressful, especially during peak dining hours. Food preparation workers must be able to work well as part of a team to ensure that dishes are prepared properly, quickly, and efficiently.

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