Cooks prepare, season and cook food in dining and catering establishments.

A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed. Around half of workers have not completed any post school qualifications (that is, they have finished Year 10, 11 or 12). Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Tasks

  • examining foodstuffs to ensure quality
  • regulating temperatures of ovens, grills and other cooking equipment
  • preparing and cooking food
  • seasoning food during cooking
  • portioning food, placing it on plates, and adding gravies, sauces and garnishes
  • storing food in temperature controlled facilities
  • preparing food to meet special dietary requirements
  • may plan menus and estimate food requirements
  • may train other kitchen staff and apprentices

Job Titles

  • Cook

    Fast Facts

    • Avg. Weekly Pay

      $800 Before Tax
    • Future Growth

      moderate
    • Skill Level

      Certificate III or IV
    • Employment Size

      34300
    • Unemployment

      above average
    • Male Share

      43.3%
    • Female Share

      56.7%
    • Full-Time Share

      50.3%

    Find Vacancies

    This is a large occupation employing 34,300 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has fallen slightly.
    Moderate growth is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 10,001 and 25,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

    • Cooks work in most parts of Australia.
    • They mainly work in: Accommodation and Food Services; Health Care and Social Assistance; and Retail Trade.
    • Part-time work is very common. Full-time workers, on average, work 39.4 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
    • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $800 per week (lower than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
    • The average age is 35 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Around 3 in 10 workers are young (aged 15 to 25 years).
    • Around 6 in 10 workers are female.
    • In 2016, the unemployment rate was above average.

    Employment Outlook

    Number of Workers

    Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
    YearNumber of Workers
    200534800
    200640400
    200737900
    200842100
    200939000
    201036500
    201137500
    201239600
    201335500
    201434400
    201534300
    202036700

    Weekly Earnings

    Full-time Earnings

    All Jobs Average

    Weekly Earnings (before tax)

    Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
    EarningsCooksAll Jobs Average
    Full-Time Earnings8001230

    Hours

    Weekly Hours Worked

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
    CategoryCooksAll Jobs Average
    Full-time50.368.4
    Part-time49.731.6
    Average Weekly Hours (full-time)39.440

    Main Industries

    Top Industries

    Main Employing Industries (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
    Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
    Accommodation and Food Services66.2
    Health Care and Social Assistance18.6
    Retail Trade5.5
    Manufacturing3.9
    Other Industries5.8

    States and Territories

    • NSW

    • VIC

    • QLD

    • SA

    • TAS

    • NT

    • ACT

    Employment by State and Territory (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    StateCooksAll Jobs Average
    NSW29.631.8
    VIC2125.5
    QLD24.419.8
    SA6.86.8
    WA12.611.2
    TAS2.82
    NT1.61.1
    ACT1.11.8

    Age Profile

    Age Profile (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    Age BracketCooksAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    15-199-5.45.4
    20-2419.2-9.99.9
    25-3421.2-23.423.4
    35-4416.3-21.721.7
    45-5419.8-21.121.1
    55-595.5-8.78.7
    60-647.1-5.95.9
    65 and Over2-3.83.8

    Gender

    Male Share

    Female Share

    Gender (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    CategoryCooksCategoryAll Jobs Average
    Males43.3Males53.6
    Females56.7Females46.4

    Education Level

    Top Education Levels

    Highest Level of Education (% share)

    Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
    Type of QualificationCooksAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0-8.68.6
    Bachelor degree13-17.917.9
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma14.7-10.110.1
    Certificate III/IV15.3-18.918.9
    Year 1224.8-18.718.7
    Years 11 & 1021.8-17.717.7
    Below Year 1010.3-8.18.1

    A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed.
    Around half of workers have not completed any post school qualifications (that is, they have finished Year 10, 11 or 12). Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

    If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
    The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

    It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

    Employers look for Cooks who have good interpersonal skills, who are reliable and are well presented.

    Knowledge

    The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

    1. Food Production

      74% Important

      Planting, growing, and harvesting food (both plant and animal), including storage and handling.

    2. Production and Processing

      60% Important

      Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.

    3. English Language

      58% Important

      English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    4. Customer and Personal Service

      55% Important

      Customer and personal services. This includes understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.

    5. Public Safety and Security

      54% Important

      Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.

    Occupational Information Network Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food Opens in a new window
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

    Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

    Activities

    The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

    1. Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events

      71% Important

      Comparing objects, actions, or events, looking for differences between them or changes over time.

    2. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

      69% Important

      Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

    3. Getting Information

      68% Important

      Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

    4. Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings

      67% Important

      Checking objects, actions, or events, keeping an eye out for problems.

    5. Performing General Physical Activities

      67% Important

      Doing things that use of your arms and legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.

    Occupational Information Network Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food Opens in a new window
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

    go to top