Cooks held about 2.3 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most cooks in 2014 were as follows:
Restaurants and other eating places
Health care and social assistance
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private
Cooks work in restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels, and other establishments where food is prepared and served. They often prepare only part of a dish and coordinate with other cooks and kitchen workers to complete meals on time. Some work in private homes.
Cooks stand for long periods and work under pressure in a fast-paced environment. Although most cooks work indoors in kitchens, some may work outdoors at food stands, at catered events, or in mobile food trucks.
Injuries and Illnesses
Kitchens are usually crowded and filled with potential dangers, such as hot ovens or slippery floors. Institution and cafeteria cooks, in particular, have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. The most common hazards are slips, falls, cuts, and burns, but the injuries are seldom serious. To reduce the risks, cooks wear long-sleeve shirts, gloves, aprons, and nonslip shoes.
Most cooks work full time. Work shifts often include early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Schedules for cooks in school cafeterias and some institutional cafeterias are usually more regular. Cooks working in schools may work just during the school year, typically for 9 or 10 months. Similarly, some resort establishments offer seasonal employment only.