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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Albuquerque, New Mexico

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for institutional cooks in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. Currently, 3,680 people work as institutional cooks in New Mexico. This is expected to grow 16% to about 4,260 people 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.

Institutional cooks earn approximately $9 hourly or $19,030 annually on average in New Mexico. Nationally they average about $10 per hour or $22,210 per year. Incomes for institutional cooks are not quite as good as in the overall category of Cooking in New Mexico, and not quite as good as the overall Cooking category nationally. Jobs in this field include: cafeteria worker, mess cook, and school cook.

The Albuquerque area is home to seventeen schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Albuquerque where you can get a degree as an institutional cook. The most common level of education for institutional cooks is a high school diploma or GED. It will take only a short time to learn 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 Albuquerque 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.
  • Fast Food Cook. Prepare and cook food in fast food restaurants with limited menus. Duties of the cooks are limited to preparation of a few basic items and normally involve operating large-volume single-purpose cooking equipment.
  • 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.
  • Short Order Cook. Prepare and cook to order a variety of foods that require only a short preparation time. May take orders from customers and serve patrons at counters or tables.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Institutional Cook Training

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute - Albuquerque, NM

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, 9169 Coors Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120-3101. Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute is a small school located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 451 students. Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute has 2 areas of study related to Institutional Cook. They are:

  • Food Preparation/Professional Cooking/Kitchen Assistant, one to two year which graduated 7 students in 2008.
  • Institutional Food Workers, associate's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.

Central New Mexico Community College - Albuquerque, NM

Central New Mexico Community College, 525 Buena Vista SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106. Central New Mexico Community College is a large college located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,690 students. Central New Mexico Community College has a less than one year program in Foodservice Systems Administration/Management which graduated twenty-nine 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: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico photo by Debernardi

Albuquerque is situated in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. It has a population of over 521,999, which has grown by 16.4% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Albuquerque, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Albuquerque cost $176,100 on average, which is above the state average. In 2008, 1,067 new homes were built in Albuquerque, down from 2,096 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Albuquerque are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 31.8% of Albuquerque residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Albuquerque is 6.9%, which is less than New Mexico's average of 7.5%.

The percentage of Albuquerque residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 54.7%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Heights Seventh Day Adventist Church, Hope Church and Baptist Student Union are some of the churches located in Albuquerque. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Non-Charismatic Churches Independent.

Albuquerque is home to the Menaul School Historic District and the Volcano Ranch as well as Cutler Park and Eunice Kaloch Park. Shopping centers in the area include Del Norte Parkade Shopping Center, Westway Shopping Center and Winrock Shopping Center. Visitors to Albuquerque can choose from Winrock Inn-Best Western, New Mexico State Government - Health Department- Behavioral Health Services Divi and Motel 6 for temporary stays in the area.