What do Food Preparation Workers Do?
Food preparation workers prepare foods that do not need cooking. This includes everything from preparing cold foods and beverages to slicing meat. Food prep workers are oftentimes charged with defrosting and reheating foods, as well as setting up food for serving. Workers in this industry are usually placed under the supervision of a chef, cook, or food service manager. Preparation workers are employed in a wide range of settings such as restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and cafes.
Food Preparation Workers Skills and Abilities
In order to perform their job properly, food preparation workers must have in-depth knowledge of food storage and handling. They should be well-versed in cleanliness, and food sanitation courses are oftentimes required by many companies and institutions. Customer service skills are also required, since a large portion of your job will consist of interacting with customers, superiors, and coworkers. Workers should understand how to safely use food preparation equipment such as knives, slicers, and microwaves. Time management skills are highly beneficial in this field, and workers will be expected to prepare large volumes of food in a relatively short period of time.
Food Preparation Workers Duties
The primary function of a food preparation worker is to prepare and serve food and beverages that do not require cooking. Workers are usually tasked with cleaning, storing, and arranging food items in a safe and appealing manner. In order to guarantee food safety, prep workers keep track of food temperatures and record them in logs. The washing, peeling, cutting, and reheating of food items is one of the main responsibilities of the prep worker. Food preparation workers may also:
- Place trays over food warmers during services
- Measure and weigh ingredients
- Remove trash and clean storage bins
- Mix ingredients for cold foods
- Assist kitchen staff and cooks with elementary tasks
- Keep records of food quantities
- Hand food to waiters or waitresses to be served
Food Preparation Workers Tools and Technology
Preparation workers use a variety of culinary devices in their day-to-day jobs. Kitchen appliances such as microwaves, mixers, blenders, and ovens are commonly employed during food preparation, and workers should feel comfortable operating them. Food preparation workers should also understand how to safely use knives, grinders, and other cutting and slicing tools. Timers, thermometers, and other time-keeping devices are utilized by workers in this field. Food prep workers should also know how to safely and effectively use cleaning chemicals and equipment. This is a job that requires frequent physical activity such as walking, standing, and lifting, so anyone interested in this job should be able to perform these functions with reasonable accommodations.
Education and Training for Food Preparation Workers
This is an entry-level career, so it does not require an extensive education. Roughly 38% of food preparation workers held only a high-school diploma, while 31% had less than a diploma. 18% of workers had some college education. Basic food safety and sanitation courses are sometimes required by law or company policy. This can be a great career for someone hoping to enter the food service industry without having to attend culinary school.
Food Preparation Workers Salary
The vast majority of food preparation workers are paid on an hourly scale. The mean yearly salary for a food prep worker is $19,600 a year, or roughly $9.40 an hour, and the highest paid 10% grossed approximately $29,300 a year. There was a 0.4% increase in wages over the last year. Workers employed in the office administration field earned the highest wage, while those employed in restaurants reported the lowest earnings in the industry.
Food Preparation Workers Jobs by Geography
New York, California, and Texas employed the largest amount of food preparation workers in the industry. The top-paying states for prep workers are Alaska, Nevada, and North Dakota. Nationwide, there was a 1.2% increase in employment levels for this particular career. There are currently 850,220 Americans employed as food preparation workers, with the majority working in the special foods industry.