Cooks prepare, season and cook food in dining and catering establishments.
examining foodstuffs to ensure quality
regulating temperatures of ovens, grills and other cooking equipment
preparing and cooking food
seasoning food during cooking
portioning food, placing it on plates, and adding gravies, sauces and garnishes
storing food in temperature controlled facilities
preparing food to meet special dietary requirements
may plan menus and estimate food requirements
may train other kitchen staff and apprentices
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 48% of people employed as Cooks work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 18 percentage points below the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 43 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $1,188 per week, this is much lower than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,038
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,308
Median hourly earnings are $29, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Cooks||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Cooks work in the Accommodation and food services industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Cooks||All Jobs Average|
Around 46% of Cooks live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Cooks is 35 years. This is younger than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 54% of the workforce. This is 6 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Cooks||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.0||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as a Cook. Although some workers have a certificate III or IV in cooking, catering or kitchen operations.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Tourism, Travel and Hospitality VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Cooks||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||2.1||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||21.5||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Cooks who have good interpersonal skills, who are reliable and are well presented.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
46%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
37%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Talking to others.
Teaching people how to do something.
36%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
34%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
34%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Reading work related information.
Looking for ways to help people.
30%Management of material resources
Providing the right equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do work.
Using maths to solve problems.
30%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Planting, growing, and harvesting food (both plant and animal), including storage and handling.
38%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
37%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
35%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
33%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
32%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
26%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
21%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
20%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
19%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
17%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
17%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
15%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Communicate by speaking.
Notice differences between colours, including shades of colour and brightness.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Listen to and understand what people say.
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
45%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Use your abdominal and lower back muscles a number of times without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
54%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
49%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
47%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
44%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
43%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
42%Managing payments and orders
Monitoring and controlling resources and the spending of money.
41%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
40%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
39%Coordinating the work of a team
Getting members of a group to work together to finish a task.
39%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
39%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
39%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
38%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
38%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
33%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
33%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
33%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
32%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
26%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
95%Spend time standing
Spend time standing at work.
Talk with people face-to-face.
89%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
86%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
83%Minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings
Be exposed to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings.
Work with people in a group or team.
81%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
81%Very hot or cold temperatures
Work in very hot or cold temperatures.
80%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Work to strict deadlines.
75%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
73%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
69%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
69%Walking and running
Spend time walking and running.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
68%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
68%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
67%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
65%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
64%Responsible for outcomes
Take responsibility for the results of other people's work.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 35-2014.00 - Cooks, Restaurant.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.