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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Worcester, Massachusetts

Institutional cook career and educational opportunities abound in Worcester, Massachusetts. There are currently 6,620 jobs for institutional cooks in Massachusetts and this is projected to grow 8% to 7,170 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as 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.

The income of an institutional cook is about $14 per hour or $29,880 yearly on average in Massachusetts. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $10 per hour or $22,210 per year on average. Incomes for institutional cooks are better than in the overall category of Cooking in Massachusetts, and not quite as good as the overall Cooking category nationally. Institutional cooks work in a variety of jobs, including: line cook, third cook, and baker.

There are thirty-nine schools of higher education in the Worcester area, including one within twenty-five miles of Worcester where you can get a degree to start your career 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 studying to be 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 Worcester 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

Salter College-West Boylston - West Boylston, MA

Salter College-West Boylston, 184 West Boylston Suite # 1, West Boylston, MA 01583. Salter College-West Boylston is a small college located in West Boylston, Massachusetts. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 852 students. Salter College-West Boylston has a one to two year program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated thirty-one students in 2008.


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: Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts photo by Yassie

Worcester is located in Worcester County, Massachusetts. It has a population of over 175,011, which has grown by 1.4% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Worcester, 121, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Worcester cost $108,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, sixty-one new homes were constructed in Worcester, down from two hundred fourteen the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Worcester are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, construction, and health care. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 23.3% of Worcester residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Worcester is 9.9%, which is greater than Massachusetts's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Worcester residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Burncoat Baptist Church, United Congregational Church and Unitarian Universalist Church are among the churches located in Worcester. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church.

Worcester is home to the Tatnuck Country Club and the Massachusetts Biotech Research Park as well as Ty Cobb Park and General Foley Stadium. Shopping malls in the area include Lincoln Plaza Shopping Center, Mid Town Mall and Norwich Place Shopping Center. Visitors to Worcester can choose from Days Inn, Hampton Inn and Maple Manor Hotel for temporary stays in the area.