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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in El Paso, Texas

For those living in the El Paso, Texas area, there are many career and education opportunities for institutional cooks. Currently, 25,530 people work as institutional cooks in Texas. This is expected to grow 22% to 31,140 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 $19,040 per year on average in Texas. 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 Texas, and not quite as good as the overall Cooking category nationally. Jobs in this field include: cafeteria worker, ship's cook, and cafeteria manager.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of El Paso where you can study to be an institutional cook, among seventeen schools of higher education total in the El Paso 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 El Paso 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.
  • 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

El Paso Community College - El Paso, TX

El Paso Community College, 919 Hunter Drive, El Paso, TX 79915-1908. El Paso Community College is a large college located in El Paso, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,833 students. El Paso Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Institutional Food Workers which graduated one, zero, and zero students respectively 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.


El Paso, Texas
El Paso, Texas photo by Camerafiend

El Paso is situated in El Paso County, Texas. It has a population of over 613,190, which has grown by 8.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in El Paso, 80, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in El Paso are priced at $150,600 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, 2,521 new homes were built in El Paso, down from 2,666 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in El Paso are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, educational services, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 22 minutes. More than 18.3% of El Paso residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.2%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in El Paso is 8.7%, which is greater than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of El Paso residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 63.4%, is more than both the national and state average. Pentecostal Holiness Church, El Divino Redentor United Methodist Church and El Paso Catholic Church are some of the churches located in El Paso. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

El Paso is home to the Wyler Aerial Tramway and the Old Fort Bliss as well as Travis White Park and Feather Lake Wildlife Refuge. Shopping centers in the area include Las Palmas Shopping Center, NorthPark Shopping Center and Cielo Vista Shopping Center. Visitors to El Paso can choose from Holiday Inn El Paso, Best Western Airport Inn and Allstate Motel for temporary stays in the area.