Food Handler

Work behind the counter preparing food at restaurants and cafes.
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Quick Stats


Salary Range
$16,000 – $28,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Food Handlers do?

In a lot of ways, a job as a Food Handler is pretty close to that of a Retail Clerk. For one thing, most of your friends have probably, at one point or another, held this position. And for another, the job calls for a lot of customer service.

Food Handlers are the people who work behind the counter at fast food restaurants, delis, and cafés. As a Food Handler, you work with customers, preparing food of all kinds from sandwiches to sushi.

This is an entry-level position, and it doesn’t require a lot of skill or any cooking experience. The work you do is taught through on-the-job training, so don’t stress if you’ve never worked in a kitchen, or don’t know the difference between a steak knife and salad tongs.

No matter where you work, you should like being around people, and enjoy helping them get what they’re looking for. When customers come in and order food, they might have questions regarding the ingredients. It’s your job to answer those questions, and give recommendations for people with food allergies.

Once an order has been placed, you prepare the food. Most of the time, the food is prepackaged. Otherwise, you have specific instructions as to how it’s prepared. This means every meal you make is going to be exactly the same as the next one.

When you finish, you clean and sanitize your work area. Depending on where you work, you might be given some Cashier duties as well.

Should I be a Food Handler?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • Also known as: Cold-Food Packer, Food Service Aide, Hot-Food Packer

    How to become a Food Handler

    Most Food Handlers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:a9faaf&chl=|no+college+%2884%25%29|certificate+%287%25%29|associate%27s+%281%25%29||doctorate+%287%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,84
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