What they do
Cooks may manage all aspects of a kitchen, including purchasing food items, preparing, cooking and presenting food, as well as keeping the kitchen clean and hygienic. This could be in hotels, pubs, cafeterias or mining company kitchens. Cooks may also plan menus, check food for quality and presentation, and train and supervise other staff. They may also work with chefs. Unlike cooks, chefs must have formal trade qualifications.
A cook's job can be very stressful, especially during peak periods Cooks are generally required to work shifts, and may be required to work a split shift, week-ends and public holidays. Normal hours are 38 hours per week. Cooks usually need to stand for most of the working day and kitchens can be hot and humid. Turnover in this occupation is high and cooks sometimes move to another job to get more experience or promotion.
Tools and technologies
Cooks need to be proficient with knives and other cooking equipment. They may also need to use special ovens and hotplates. For specific types of food, they may need to use specialty implements such as a wok for Asian cooking.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a cook without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in cookery.
The Certificates III and IV in Commercial Cookery are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You can also undertake an apprenticeship in commercial cookery. The apprenticeship usually takes 36 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing