Your Guide on How To Become a Kitchen Hand

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 January 2023

Published 14 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Kitchen hands play a key role in the day-to-day running of commercial kitchens. They perform duties such as food preparation, kitchen organisation and cleaning. As a kitchen hand, you may work in a variety of dining establishments such as restaurants, cafes and hotels. In this article, we discuss how to become a kitchen hand, what skills you need and the salary you can expect for this role.

How to become a kitchen hand?

There is no formal training required to become a kitchen hand. However, a qualification in kitchen operations may be advantageous when job searching. There are a few different ways to become a kitchen hand, there is no set pathway. Below we discuss how to become a kitchen hand:

1. Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a great way to enter the industry. It allows you to get real-life training while working towards a qualification and often getting paid at the same time. Apprenticeships are structured traineeships that are linked to a registered provider that require apprentices to enter into a formal contract with the employer. An apprenticeship is a good opportunity to learn practical skills and create contacts within the industry.

You can complete apprenticeships while still at school, as a school leaver or mature age student. If you are still in school and are interested in pursuing an apprenticeship, speak to your VET coordinator. If you are no longer in school, you can simply apply for an apprenticeship online. You can even approach venues directly and ask about apprenticeship options if you have a particular business in mind.

2. On-the-job training

You can become a kitchen hand simply by applying for the job. Many professional chefs begin their careers as kitchen hands. You can learn the ins and outs of how a professional kitchen works, and progress from there. Many dining establishments take on new staff and give them on-the-job kitchen hand training.

When searching for a kitchen hand job, the job description can tell you if they require you to have any experience or qualifications. Make sure you read the requirements thoroughly before applying. Some kitchen hand jobs favour applicants with a formal qualification.

3. Qualification in hospitality

To give yourself an advantage in the job search process, you may want to complete a formal hospitality qualification. TAFE offers certificates in hospitality and kitchen operations. You can learn foundational skills in safe kitchen and food practices. You can also build on those skills with further study in commercial cookery. Although these qualifications are not necessary to become a kitchen hand, they can be useful and help you compete for jobs against other candidates.

What is a kitchen hand?

Kitchen hands assist with the day-to-day operations of a professional kitchen. They assist other kitchen staff with food preparation and organisation. Kitchen hands are usually responsible for keeping areas and equipment clean. They may also help in receiving and putting away food deliveries. Kitchen hands are valuable assets to all restaurants and commercial kitchens.

Tasks and duties

The duties of a kitchen hand vary from job to job, it depends on the size and type of establishment. Here is a list of some common kitchen hand duties:

  • Maintain food preparation areas: keep them clean and organised.

  • Perform general cleaning: bench tops, floors, ovens, equipment, utensils, glassware, crockery and cutlery.

  • Maintain stock: receive food deliveries, put them away, keep them organised and up to date.

  • Assist the cooks: retrieve food items or utensils as required and assist in food preparation.

  • Keep the kitchen clean: throw out rubbish and clear working areas.

  • Organise linen: kitchens require a lot of linen such as tea towels, the kitchen hand is often responsible for organising this.

Skills and requirements

There are a variety of skills and requirements that you can develop to become a kitchen hand. You can learn some through experience, while others are inherent. Let's take a look:

  • Physical stamina: working as a kitchen hand requires you to be physically fit. This is because you will spend a lot of time standing on your feet. It is important to stay hydrated and take breaks when you can.

  • Enjoy practical work: being a kitchen hand is suited to someone who enjoys practical work. You will spend most of your time using your hands. It's a good option for people who do not enjoy an office environment.

  • Hand-eye coordination: kitchen hands need to have good hand-eye coordination when using knives and other kitchen utensils. Food preparation work can be delicate and intricate. You will most likely be taught these skills while on the job.

  • Problem-solving: kitchens are busy places, and you won't always have a supervisor telling you exactly what to do. You need to be able to problem-solve when no one is around to help. You also need to be able to think up tasks to do without being told.

  • Good hygiene: this is a top priority when working in any hospitality job. Having good personal hygiene as well as understanding safe food practices is a key skill to possess. You will be taught about safe food practices while on the job, but it might be worth taking an online course, so you have a basic understanding.

  • Communication and cooperation: when working in a busy environment it is important to clearly communicate and cooperate with the rest of the team. There is a clear chain of command in most kitchens which you will be expected to follow. Make sure you listen to instructions clearly and ask for clarification when needed.

  • Ability to work under pressure: kitchens can be high-pressure environments during busy times. It is important to keep cool during these times. The other staff will appreciate this immensely.

  • Flexibility in working hours: as a kitchen hand, you may be required to work a variety of hours. This will include daytime, night and weekend work. You may also be required to stay overtime sometimes. So, you should remain flexible with the hours that you can work.

Related reading: How To Develop your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

Salary

As a kitchen hand, your salary will vary depending on where you work and the hours you work. Kitchen hands often work long hours, so may receive overtime pay and award rates. The average national annual salary for a kitchen hand is $55,913. The Northern Territory and Queensland are home to the highest-paid kitchen hands.

Working conditions

Being a kitchen hand is a physical job, it may require long hours on your feet, especially during busy periods. Kitchens can be loud, hot and humid so being physically and mentally prepared is important. You will most likely perform shift work, with a changing weekly roster. You may work a variety of hours including daytime, evenings and weekends. It can be a rewarding job, with plenty of room to grow and establish a career in hospitality.

Related reading: How To Balance a Fast-Paced Workplace

Frequently asked questions

Now that you have a better understanding of how to become a kitchen hand, let's look at some commonly asked questions:

What are the qualifications for a kitchen hand?

There are no formal qualification requirements for kitchen hands. You may find it advantageous to obtain a certificate in kitchen operations. You can also take up an apprenticeship or traineeship. There are other online courses in food handling and hygiene which may help your chances of landing a job.

How much do kitchen hands get paid?

The average weekly pay for a kitchen hand is $1,075.25 before tax. This will vary depending on where you work and the hours you work. If you work a lot of overtime, your pay rate may increase. If you are undertaking an apprenticeship, your pay rate might be less. Many factors determine a kitchen hand's salary.

How do you get a kitchen hand job with no experience?

If you are passionate about becoming a kitchen hand but have no experience, don't worry, you can still get a job. Search for kitchen hand jobs that require no previous experience. Write a well-rounded resume and cover letter expressing your interest. If you don't have any luck, then perhaps consider doing some formal training. The more skills you can add to your resume the better.

Related: Resume for a School Leaver (With Template and Example)

What does a kitchen hand do?

A kitchen hand does a variety of tasks. The tasks change depending on the type of kitchen you are working in. Jobs may include cleaning, food preparation, stock maintenance and assisting the cooks.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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