Overall employment of cooks is projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Individual growth rates will vary by specialty.
Population and income growth are expected to result in greater consumer demand for food at a variety of dining places. People will continue to eat out, buy takeout meals, or have food delivered. In response to increased consumer demand, more restaurants, cafeterias, and catering services will open and serve more meals. These establishments will require more cooks to prepare meals for customers.
In addition, consumers continue to prefer healthier foods and faster service in restaurants, grocery stores, and other dining venues. To prepare high quality meals at these places, many managers and chefs will require more experienced cooks, such as restaurant cooks, over short-order cooks.
Employment growth of fast food cooks will be limited as these establishments choose to hire other workers such as food preparation and serving workers, who can prepare and also serve food to customers.
Institution and cafeteria cooks are primarily employed in schools, nursing care facilities, government offices, and hospitals. Some of these facilities contract out their food service to food service operators, also known as food service companies. These companies will hire more institution and cafeteria cooks to prepare food in these establishments.
Overall job opportunities are expected to be very good as a result of employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Cooks with previous training and related work experience will have the best job prospects.
Those who can prepare more complex dishes will have the best job opportunities at restaurant chains, upscale restaurants, and hotels.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Total, all occupations
Cooks and food preparation workers
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program