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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Columbia, Maryland

Institutional cooks can find many career and educational opportunities in the Columbia, Maryland area. There are currently 4,080 jobs for institutional cooks in Maryland and this is projected to grow 23% to 5,010 jobs by 2016. This is better than the national trend for institutional cooks, which sees this job pool growing by about 9.7% over the next eight years. In general, institutional cooks prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Institutional cooks earn approximately $12 hourly or $26,650 per year on average in Maryland. Nationally they average about $10 hourly or $22,210 per year. Earnings for institutional cooks are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Cooking in Maryland and not quite as good as general Cooking category earnings nationally. Institutional cooks work in a variety of jobs, including: chef, ship's cook, and baker.

The Columbia area is home to 109 schools of higher education, including four within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can get a degree as an institutional cook. Given that the most common education level for institutional cooks is a high school diploma or GED, 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 Columbia 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.
  • Personal Chef. Prepare meals in private homes.
  • 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

Stratford University - Falls Church, VA

Stratford University, 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043-2403. Stratford University is a small university located in Falls Church, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,644 students. Stratford University has an associate's degree program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated fifty-nine students in 2008.

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has a one to two year program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated five students in 2008.

Morgan State University - Baltimore, MD

Morgan State University, 1700 East Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21251-0001. Morgan State University is a medium sized university located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,554 students and an admission rate of 34%. Morgan State University has a bachelor's degree program in Foodservice Systems Administration/Management which graduated seven students in 2008.

Anne Arundel Community College - Arnold, MD

Anne Arundel Community College, 101 College Pky, Arnold, MD 21012-1895. Anne Arundel Community College is a large college located in Arnold, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,149 students. Anne Arundel Community College has a one to two year program in Foodservice Systems Administration/Management which graduated seven students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland photo by Jeff Kubina

Columbia is located in Howard County, Maryland. It has a population of over 96,421. The cost of living index in Columbia, 100, is near the national average.

The three most popular industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 30 minutes. More than 59.0% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 28.7%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 49.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church and Long Reach Interfaith Center are all churches located in Columbia. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Columbia is home to the Symphony Woods Office Center and the Rivers Corporate Park as well as Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Clarksville Environmental Area. Shopping centers in the area include Governor Century Plaza Shopping Center, Atholton Shopping Center and Owen Brown Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Columbia can choose from PFMG, Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Inn Columbia for temporary stays in the area.