Cooks

(NOC 6322)

in All Sales and Service

Cooks prepare and cook a wide variety of foods. They work for restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other health care institutions, central food commissaries, educational institutions, and other organizations. Cooks also work aboard ships and at construction and logging campsites. Cooks may specialize in preparing and cooking ethnic cuisine or special dishes.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Weak growth employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 345 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate Low rate of unemployment in 2019

Compared to: All Sales and Service

  • Estimate -505 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 6125 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Thousands of cooks were laid off from March until June when dining rooms were ordered to close. Some remained employed as restaurants were permitted to sell meals as delivery or takeout. Many cooks were rehired when dining rooms were able to open again, though some remained unemployed as of late summer. As of November 2020, dining rooms in the Halifax region were forced to close for a second time due to community spread of the virus. This is expected to result in a temporary increase in the number of unemployed cooks. Despite the higher-than-usual number of unemployed cooks, employers in some areas of the province have indicated that finding qualified cooks has been a challenge. High turnover in this occupation can also be problematic from a service delivery standpoint, given the length of time dedicated to on-the- job training for new employees.

Prior to COVID-19, the number of workers in food services rose during the previous several years. Demand has increased with population and income growth, as well as the rising popularity of food delivery services. Some restaurants reported a shortage of cooks prior to the pandemic. There are typically many vacancies due to high turnover. The permanent closure of some restaurants may result in reduced demand for cooks persisting after the pandemic. Going forward, employment in this occupation will be linked to the health of the food services industry overall. Many restaurants have indicated an inability to recover financially from the closure in the spring. Those normally reliant on seasonal summer revenue were particularly hard-hit by the decline in tourism.

The median employment income for the 35% of Cooks who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 2as $27,186. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, the 59% of those who worked full-time, year-round had a median employment income of $43,600. (Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$12.95

Minimum

$13.00

Median

$17.50

Maximum

Annual Pay

$3,669

Minimum

$17,935

Median

$41,583

Maximum

Compared to: All Sales and Service

Hourly Pay

$12.55

Minimum

$18.36

Median

$22.50

Maximum

Annual Pay

$2,949

Minimum

$16,629

Median

$45,086

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Cooks prepare and cook a wide variety of foods. They work for restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other health care institutions, central food commissaries, educational institutions, and other organizations. Cooks also work aboard ships and at construction and logging campsites. Cooks may specialize in preparing and cooking ethnic cuisine or special dishes.

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

This work requires initiative, imagination, and creativity. Knowledge of basic nutrition and cooking methods is needed. You should understand and apply the rules of hygiene, sanitation, and occupational safety. Organization, time management, and the ability to perform under pressure are important. You must have good physical health, physical stamina, and manual dexterity. You will be required to establish good working relationships with a variety of co-workers and customers and display a professional attitude.

Job requirements

  • High school is usually required.
  • A three-year apprenticeship program for cooks or completion of college or other program in cooking or several years of commercial cooking experience are required.
  • Trade certification is available, but voluntary, in Nova Scotia.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) is also available to qualified cooks upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination.

Other considerations

These jobs are heavily influenced by tourism activity. Employment levels tend to vary throughout the year and peak in the summer months. A high rate of turnover in these jobs generates numerous job openings for people seeking employment. Earnings can vary significantly depending upon the skills and training of the individual and the employer’s organization type. There is movement among the various types of cooks in this group. Movement to supervisory or more senior positions, like chef, is possible with experience and training.

By the numbers

Quick look

7,190

employed in 2016

64.9%

employed full-time

3.7%

self employed

49.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
51%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
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%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
39.9%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
37

median age

Where will I likely work?

41.9%

Halifax

17.2%

North Shore

17.0%

Cape Breton

13.6%

Southern

10.4%

Annapolis Valley

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%

Apprenticeship

$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%

Apprenticeship

$21,234 median annual income

Education & training

Adult High School Siploma or Equivalent

High School Program

The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) administers, coordinates, and supports the development and delivery of adult education programs through learning partners in Nova Scotia. Our learning partners include the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations that offer tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED, empowering Nova Scotians to achieve their learning and employment goals.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Adult Learning

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

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 - Akerley Campus

Dartmouth, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus

Kentville, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

Sydney, 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 - Akerley Campus

Dartmouth, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus

Kentville, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus

Bridgewater, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries

Stellarton, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute

Port Hawkesbury, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

Sydney, NS

Apprenticeship Training

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Cook

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

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
1256 Barrington Street, 3rd Fl, Box 578
Halifax, NS B3J 2S9
(800) 494-5651
Ship's Cook

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

Regulating body:
Transport Canada - Marine Safety Services
45 Alderney Drive
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4K2
(855) 859-3123
(902) 426-6657

Contacts

Canadian Culinary Federation, Halifax Branch
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Tourism Talent
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Sector Council
Halifax, NS