If you enjoy food preparation, working with children and serving healthy meals, becoming a school cafeteria worker may be an ideal job choice. An understanding of food safety procedures, strong interpersonal skills and attention to detail can help you land a job in a school cafeteria. Prior experience in food service is advantageous but not necessary for most positions. Job openings can found online and on the school district’s website.

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the average annual wage for this position was $26,370, or $12.68 per hour. You can earn as much as $39,170 depending upon your geographical location. School cafeteria jobs can be a stepping stone for other careers in food service, such as supervisory roles within the school food service system.

Tip

Acquiring food safety certification through an online course like ServSafe can boost your chances of securing a job as a school cafeteria worker. Training covers government regulations on food handling, foodborne illness, food and temperature control, sanitizing and food receiving and storage.

Step 1: Review Job Ads for School Cafeteria Jobs

Shrewd job seekers know how to market themselves. Read online help wanted ads found on free job search sites like Indeed to identify the required and preferred qualifications to work in a school cafeteria. Carefully studying job ads offers insight about what type of person the employer is seeking. In other words, if the advertisement indicates that the ideal applicant is hard working, dependable and good with children, then those are the qualities you want to stress in your resume, application and job interview.

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Example:

Your ad states that you are looking for a dependable hard worker with child care experience. I am that person. My qualifications include working in a bustling, licensed day care center for three years. I received an increase in pay for taking on added responsibilities for the position, and I earned a perfect attendance award.

Step 2: Write Your Career Objective

Write a resume geared toward your goal of working in a school cafeteria. Many online job application sites offer the option of uploading a resume, which can give you a leg up on the competition. Under your name and contact information, state that your career objective is to work in a school cafeteria.

Example:

Seeking a job as a school cafeteria worker in a fast-paced environment that values exceptional customer service and teamwork.

Step 3: Highlight Related Job Experience on Your Resume

List your previous experience on your resume. Describe in detail any jobs that related to the position you are seeking, such as working as a short-order cook, filling orders at a soup and sandwich shop or overseeing a buffet line.

Example:

Cafeteria Worker. Big Steer Buffet. Billings, Montana. 2017 to present.

Duties include maintaining a clean and attractive buffet, warmly greeting customers and carefully monitoring food safety protocols and temperature control regulations.

Step 4: Launch Your Job Search

With resume in hand, you are ready to begin your formal job search. One of the best ways of getting a job is to get to know the school district food services manager. Do not hesitate to make an appointment and convey your interest, even if there are not any posted positions. Most school districts advertise open positions on their website. Be the first to apply and show your eagerness for the job, and you will be on your way to becoming a school cafeteria worker or school cook. Call or send an email explaining your interest in an informational interview.

Example:

I am very interested in meeting with you to discuss how to go about obtaining a job as a school cafeteria worker. Even if you do not have any current openings, I believe you may have some helpful tips on how I may go about finding and landing a job in the near future. Attached is my resume listing my qualifications.

Step 5: Regularly Check Job Portals

Most job seekers find openings through job portals or by word of mouth because print ads are more expensive for employers. Frequently check for new openings. When completing an online application, answer questions in detail. Highlight any past experiences in the food industry when a question asks you to describe what makes you qualified for the position.

Example:

For the past two summers, I worked full time at a popular resort restaurant. My duties included arriving early in the morning to begin prepping to serve breakfast and lunch to hotel guests. During mealtime, I was assigned to the cashier station or took orders and served food. Afterward, I helped with cleaning the dining area, sanitizing the kitchen and preparing for the next meal.

Step 6: Rock Your Interview

Have a neat, clean business-casual outfit ready to wear so you can promptly respond to an interview request and make a good first impression. A positive attitude can make all the difference in which equally qualified applicant gets the job offer. Smile, be friendly and show enthusiasm. A sincere interest in learning new skills and the ability to work harmoniously with adults and energetic children are other important qualities to convey during a job interview. Be prepared to explain why you want the job.

Example:

Being a school cafeteria worker especially appeals to me because I have excellent communication skills, prior food service experience and a commitment to serving healthy meals to growing children.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.