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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Burlington, Vermont

For those living in the Burlington, Vermont area, there are many career and education opportunities for institutional cooks. Currently, 1,150 people work as institutional cooks in Vermont. This is expected to grow by 5% to about 1,210 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as 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 about $12 per hour or $25,400 per year on average in Vermont and about $10 hourly or $22,210 annually on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Cooking, people working as institutional cooks in Vermont earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Cooking nationally. Institutional cooks work in a variety of jobs, including: mess cook, dietary aide, and diet kitchen cook.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Burlington where you can study to be an institutional cook, among seventeen schools of higher education total in the Burlington area. Institutional cooks usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so 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 Burlington 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

New England Culinary Institute at Essex - Essex Junction, VT

New England Culinary Institute at Essex, 5 Franklin Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452. New England Culinary Institute at Essex is a small school located in Essex Junction, Vermont. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 105 students. New England Culinary Institute at Essex has 2 areas of study related to Institutional Cook. They are:

  • Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, one to two year which graduated 5 students in 2008.
  • Food Preparation/Professional Cooking/Kitchen Assistant, bachelor's degree which graduated 15 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.


Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont photo by Avala

Burlington is situated in Chittenden County, Vermont. It has a population of over 38,897. The cost of living index in Burlington, 102, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Burlington cost $152,400 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, five new homes were constructed in Burlington, down from eight the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Burlington are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, accommodation and food services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average travel time to work is about 17 minutes. More than 42.0% of Burlington residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.6%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Burlington is 5.2%, which is less than Vermont's average of 5.9%. About 20.0% of Burlington's residents are below the poverty line, which is worse than the state average.

The percentage of Burlington residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 39.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Saint Mark Church, Champlain Valley Baptist Church and Church of God in Christ are some of the churches located in Burlington. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Burlington is home to the South Breakwater Light and the Vermont State Craft Center Shelburne Farms as well as Ethan Allen Park and Head of Church Street Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Church Street Marketplace Shopping Center, North Avenue Shopping Center and Burlington Square Shopping Center. Visitors to Burlington can choose from Holiday Inn, Radisson Hotel Burlington and Champlain Inn for temporary stays in the area.