Cooks

(NOC 6322)

in All Sales and Service

Cooks prepare and cook food in hotels, restaurants, and institutions. Cooks also work on ships and at construction and logging campsites.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Strong growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 1100 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Sales and Service

  • Estimate 10325 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 17495 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Outlook: good, a better than average chance of qualified individuals finding work.

Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: large, with job opportunities occurring regularly.

Demand: Approximately 540 opportunities are estimated for Halifax, and 615 outside Halifax. Employment growth will lead to several new positions There is a low level of employee turnover in this occupation. There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation. A moderate number of positions will become available due to retirements.

Work hours: full-time or part-time are both common. Jobs are typically permanent positions. Employment can be seasonal with more opportunities in the summer months.

A shortage of cooks has emerged in many parts of the province, as long-term challenges with turnover and attrition have been compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some previous workers in this occupation have changed careers, which has made recruitment and retention more difficult as restaurants reopened or extended their operating hours. Candidates with experience should have very little difficulty finding employment. Shortage conditions may also improve prospects for less experienced jobseekers.

Hourly Pay

$13.35

Minimum

$14.00

Median

$18.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$3,669

Minimum

$17,935

Median

$41,583

Maximum

Compared to: All Sales and Service

Hourly Pay

$12.95

Minimum

$15.00

Median

$25.60

Maximum

Annual Pay

$2,949

Minimum

$16,629

Median

$45,086

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Cooks prepare and cook food in hotels, restaurants, and institutions. Cooks also work on ships and at construction and logging campsites.

Job duties

Cooks:

  • Prepare and cook complete meals or individual dishes and foods.
  • Prepare and cook special meals for patients as instructed by dietitian or chef.
  • Schedule and supervise kitchen helpers.
  • Oversee kitchen operations.
  • Maintain inventory and records of food, supplies and equipment.
  • May set up and oversee buffets.
  • May clean kitchen and work area.
  • May plan menus, determine size of food portions, estimate food requirements and costs, and monitor and order supplies.
  • May hire and train kitchen staff.

Sample job titles

  • apprentice cook
  • assistant cook
  • banquet cook
  • cafeteria cook
  • camp cook
  • caterer cook
  • cook
  • line cook
  • ship's cook
  • short order cook

Skills

  • A genuine interest in preparing food
  • Creativity
  • A keen sense of smell
  • Interest in precision work
  • Good memory for details
  • Mathematical ability
  • Good health
  • Physical stamina and manual dexterity
  • Knowledge of basic nutrition and cooking methods
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as a team
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Customer service skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to apply the rules of hygiene, sanitation, and occupational safety.

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent (usually).
  • Training through a 5,400-hour apprenticeship program with three apprenticeship levels: to become an apprentice you first need to have a job - enter an apprenticeship agreement either directly through an employer or after graduating from a college-level pre-apprenticeship program; learn on the job, mentored by a certified journeyperson who signs off on skills in a logbook.
  • Trade Qualifier option, 8,100 hours, and other criteria.
  • Certification for cooks is voluntary in Nova Scotia.
  • Write and score a minimum of 70% on the Red Seal exam for cooks.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) allows for interprovincial mobility.

Other considerations

  • Setting: are clean and well lit but can be hot with restricted space.
  • Work hours: most cooks work shift work, including early mornings, late evenings, holidays, and weekends. The hours worked each week vary depending on the type of position and type of workplace.
  • Cooks work under pressure and the work volume can be large.
  • Risks: burns, cuts, slips, and falls are common hazards.
  • Cooks must be able to stand for long periods, work in close quarters, and lift heavy objects.
  • Cooks who work at camps in remote areas must be able to work under particular conditions and can be away from home for extended periods.
  • Cooks must be able to remember recipes and be able to adapt them to available ingredients and current requirements.
  • Cooks must be conscious of health information like dietary requirements and allergies.
  • Cooks should be versatile enough to help with any task that needs doing within the kitchen and any other related task.
  • Experienced cooks may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They can advance to positions like kitchen managers, chefs, banquet managers, sales, food service administrators and managers, general managers, or food writers. They can also own their own business.
  • Some experienced cooks achieve a highly respected level of certification as either a Certified Chef de cuisine or a Certified Master Chef.
  • These jobs are influenced by tourism activity. Employment levels vary throughout the year and peak in the summer months.
  • Earnings can vary depending on the skills and training of the individual and the employer’s organization type.
  • Cooks may specialize in preparing and cooking ethnic cuisine, or in preparing meals according to dietary and varying nutritional requirements.
  • Apprentices usually earn a percentage of the journeyperson (fully qualified) rate. This percentage increases as each level of the apprenticeship program is completed.
  • Everyone has fair access to participate and succeed in the apprenticeship system. Everyone who develops the necessary skills and abilities should be able to succeed in the trades and trade qualification system. Work environments in the province support women and equity-seeking communities.

By the numbers

Quick look

7,190

employed in 2016

64.9%

employed full-time

3.7%

self employed

49.0%
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51%
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36

median age

Compared to: All Sales and Service

102,605

employed in 2016

56.4%

employed full-time

5.8%

self employed

60.1%
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39.9%
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37

median age

Where will I likely work?

41.9%

Halifax

$20,216 median annual income
17.2%

North Shore

$17,099 median annual income
17.0%

Cape Breton

$16,433 median annual income
13.6%

Southern

$17,208 median annual income
10.4%

Annapolis Valley

$17,751 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

77.5%

Accommodation and food services

10.2%

Health care and social assistance

3.1%

Public administration

2.4%

Retail trade

1.7%

Educational services

What is the age of Employment?

29.0%

15-24

19.0%

25-34

18.0%

45-54

17.0%

35-44

14.0%

55-64

3.0%

65+

Compared to: All Sales and Service

30.0%

15-24

17.2%

45-54

17.2%

25-34

16.1%

55-64

13.8%

35-44

Top levels of education

39.7%

High school

$16,110 median annual income
24.7%

Less than high school

$14,052 median annual income
18.4%

College Diploma

$22,035 median annual income
10.4%

Trade Certification

$27,886 median annual income
4.6%

Bachelor

$19,190 median annual income

Compared to: All Sales and Service

39.8%

High school

$15,705 median annual income
19.7%

Less than high school

$9,866 median annual income
19.5%

College Diploma

$20,644 median annual income
9.9%

Bachelor

$21,262 median annual income
8.0%

Trade Certification

$21,234 median annual income

Education & training

Culinary Arts/Chef Training

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to provide professional chef and related cooking services in restaurants and other commercial food businesses. They include courses in recipe and menu planning, preparing and cooking of foods, supervising and training kitchen assistants, managing food supplies and kitchen resources, aesthetics of food presentation, and familiarity with or mastery of a wide variety of cuisines and culinary techniques.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Food Preparation/Professional Cooking/Kitchen Assistant

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to serve under the supervision of chefs and other food service professionals as kitchen support staff and commercial food preparation workers. They include courses in kitchen organization and operations, sanitation and quality control, basic food preparation and cooking skills, kitchen and kitchen equipment maintenance, and quantity food measurement and monitoring.

Institutions providing this program

Futureworx Career College

Truro, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Cook

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, but a certificate is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS
Ship's Cook

Not Provincially Regulated: This job may be regulated by a federal regulatory body.

Regulating body:
Transport Canada - Marine Safety Services
Dartmouth, NS
Certified Chef de cuisine (CCC)

Certification: Employers may require certification, but certification is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Canadian Culinary Institute
Various, Canada
Certified Master Chef (CMC)

Certification: Employers may require certification, but certification is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Canadian Culinary Institute
Various, Canada

Contacts

Canadian Culinary Federation, Halifax Branch
Halifax, NS
Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Tourism Talent
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Sector Council
Halifax, NS
Restaurants Canada
Toronto, ON