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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Bakersfield, California

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for institutional cooks in the Bakersfield, California area. There are currently 22,800 jobs for institutional cooks in California and this is projected to grow 14% to about 26,000 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for institutional cooks are expected to grow by about 9.7%. Institutional cooks generally prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Income for institutional cooks is about $12 per hour or $26,760 per year on average in California. Nationally, their income is about $10 per hour or $22,210 yearly. Earnings for institutional cooks are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Cooking in California and not quite as good as general Cooking category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: school cafeteria cook, basket lunch preparer, and cook.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Bakersfield where you can study to be an institutional cook, among eight schools of higher education total in the Bakersfield area. Institutional cooks usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time training to become an institutional cook if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Institutional Cook

Institutional Cook video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, institutional cooks prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Institutional cooks cook foodstuffs in line with menus, special dietary or nutritional restrictions, or numbers of portions to be served. They also clean and inspect galley equipment and work areas to insure cleanliness and functional operation. Equally important, institutional cooks have to apportion and serve food to facility residents or customers. They are often called upon to wash pots and other cooking equipment. Finally, institutional cooks clean and cook meat, fish, or poultry.

Every day, institutional cooks are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for institutional cooks to train new employees. They are often called upon to bake breads and other pastries. They also compile and maintain records of food use and expenditures. They are sometimes expected to direct efforts of one or more staff who help in preparing and serving meals. Somewhat less frequently, institutional cooks are also expected to formulate menus that are varied and appetizing, taking advantage of foods in season and local availability.

Institutional cooks sometimes are asked to decide on meal prices, on the basis of calculations of ingredient prices. They also have to be able to monitor menus and spending to insure that meals are prepared economically And finally, they sometimes have to formulate menus that are varied and appetizing, taking advantage of foods in season and local availability.

Like many other jobs, institutional cooks must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Bakersfield include:

  • Chef. Direct the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts. May participate in cooking.
  • Food Service Aide. Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.
  • Food and Beverage Supervisor. Supervise workers engaged in preparing and serving food.
  • Restaurant Chef. Prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants. May order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Institutional Cook Training

Bakersfield College - Bakersfield, CA

Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93305-1299. Bakersfield College is a large college located in Bakersfield, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 18,028 students. Bakersfield College has 2 areas of study related to Institutional Cook. They are:

  • Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year which graduated three, seven, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Foodservice Systems Administration/Management, associate's degree and two to four year.


Certified Correctional Foodservice Professional: A key purpose of the Certified Correctional Foodservice Professional certification is to develop the highest standards in.

For more information, see the American Correctional Food Service Association website.

Certified Culinarian: An entry level culinarian professional within a commercial foodservice operation.

For more information, see the American Culinary Federation, Inc. website.

Preventing Disease Transmission: A two-hour training module for employers and employees who, while on the job, may be exposed to blood or other body fluids that could cause infection.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Quality Coffee Certification Program: The purpose of QCCP is to provide operators with sales tools and knowledge that will help them begin or enhance their own quality coffee program for their customers.

For more information, see the National Automatic Merchandising Association website.

School Nutrition Specialist: The Credentialing Program of the School Nutrition Association was created to enhance the professional image of school nutrition professionals.

For more information, see the School Nutrition Association website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield, California photo by Bobak

Bakersfield is situated in Kern County, California. It has a population of over 321,078, which has grown by 30.0% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Bakersfield, 90, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Bakersfield are valued at $191,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,038 new homes were built in Bakersfield, down from 1,820 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Bakersfield are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, public administration, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 22 minutes. More than 19.3% of Bakersfield residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.4%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Bakersfield is 10.1%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Bakersfield residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.6%, is less than both the national and state average. Cornerstone Community Church, Coronado Gardens Missionary Baptist Church and Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses are some of the churches located in Bakersfield. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Bakersfield is home to the Mesa Marin Raceway and the Avenue Oaks Country Club as well as Beale Park and Kern County Fairgrounds. Shopping centers in the area include Sagebrush Shopping Center, White Lane Plaza Shopping Center and Benton Park Shopping Center. Visitors to Bakersfield can choose from Best Western Heritage Inn, Best Western Hill House and America's Best Inn Bakersfield for temporary stays in the area.