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Food Counter Attendants & Kitchen Helpers (NOC 6711) may also be called:

  • food preparer
  • busboy, busgirl, busser
  • server assistant
  • cook’s helper
  • cafeteria attendant
  • dishwasher
  • fast-food preparer
  • food service helper
  • kitchen helper

What Would I Do?

Food Counter attendants and food preparers take customer orders, accept payment and serve customers at food counters. They may also prepare, heat and finish cooking simple food items. As a food counter attendant / food preparer, your duties can include:

  • use a cash register to take customer orders, accept payment and give change
  • answer customer questions about menu items and serve customers at counters or buffet tables
  • preparing food such as sandwiches, hamburgers, salads, milkshakes, ice cream dishes and beverages, including coffee-type drinks
  • clean, peel, slice and trim food items using manual and electric appliances
  • stock refrigerators, cupboards and salad bars
  • keep records of the quantities of food used
  • clean and sanitize kitchen areas including, work surfaces, cupboards and storage areas, as well as dispose of kitchen garbage
  • clear and clean tables, trays and chairs
  • reset tables with clean tablecloths, napkins, silverware, glasses and dishes

Kitchen helpers, food service helpers and dishwashers: usually clear tables, clean kitchen areas and wash dishes and help workers who prepare or serve food and beverages.

As a kitchen helper or a food service helper, your duties may include:

  • wash work tables, meat blocks, cupboards, walls and appliances and clean kitchen work areas, equipment, utensils and dishes
  • sweep and mop floors, and perform other duties to assist cook and kitchen staff
  • remove and clear kitchen garbage
  • remove dishes before and after courses, scrape and stack dishes, carry linen to and from laundry area
  • clear and clean tables and trays in eating establishments
  • bring clean dishes, flatware and other items to serving areas and set tables
  • refill condiments and other supplies at tables and in serving areas
  • unpack and store supplies in refrigerators, cupboards and storage areas
  • help to wash, peel and prepare basic food items

As a dishwasher, your duties may include:

  • wash dishes, glassware, flatware, pots and pans either with a dishwasher or by hand
  • place dishes in storage areas, sweep and scrub floors, sort and remove garbage and wash garbage cans
  • may also clean and prepare food, keep kitchen work areas clean and orderly load and unload trucks picking up or delivering food and supplies

More information:

Am I Suited For This Job?

Food counter attendants and kitchen helpers should be:

  • energetic
  • efficient
  • able to multi-task
  • able to work quickly
  • able to remember customer orders
  • good with people

They should have:

  • excellent customer service skills
  • basic mathematics and arithmetic skills

Food service counter attendants, food preparers and kitchen helpers work days, evenings weekends and holidays. Hours tend to be irregular but flexible and split shifts are common. Food service counter attendants and food preparers typically stand for long periods of time and often carry heavy trays. They work in kitchens that are hot, humid, fast-paced and can be greasy and noisy.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Food counter attendants & kitchen helpersCareer Cruising database

What Are The Wages And Benefits?

In British Columbia, the average annual salary for Food counter attendants & kitchen helpers ranges from $11,000 – $33,000. In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

food counter attendants and kitchen helpers hourly wages

Table from Job Bank Wage Report

Many employers provide discounted or free meals, as well as uniforms. In addition, those who work full-time may receive benefits such as dental care. Part-time workers generally do not receive benefits.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Food counter attendants & kitchen helpersCareer Cruising database

What Is The Job Outlook In BC?

For the 2014-2016 period, the employment outlook is expected to be fair for Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Occupations (NOC 6641) in British Columbia. The outlook also notes employment growth is expected to be weak and a small number of people are expected to retire.

Employment Outlook

employment outlook for food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related occupations

Chart from WorkBC
Sources: WorkBC Career Profiles, JobBank Canada

How Do I Become a Food Counter Attendant or Kitchen Helper?

In B.C., no standard training or education is required for food service counter attendants, kitchen helpers and food preparers. However, you may need some secondary school education. Other training or requirements may include:

  • food safety training and customer service experience
  • on-the-job training under the supervision of other experienced workers
  • FOODSAFE Certificate Level 1 for front line food service workers (cooks, servers, bussers, dishwashers, and deli workers). FOODSAFE covers food safety information, foodborne illness, receiving and storing food, preparing food, serving food, cleaning and sanitizing

For more information see:

  • Go2HR (FOODSAFE courses by correspondence)

How Do I Find A Job?

Where would I work?

Food counter attendants and kitchen helpers may work in:

  • small, medium and large businesses, such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, fast food outlets, cafeterias and hospitals

Finding Advertised Jobs

Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.

Online Job Postings

  • go2HR
    [search for ‘dishwasher’ or ‘busser’]
    job board for tourism and hospitality jobs in BC

Finding “Hidden Jobs”

Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.

Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers

You can use company directories to produce lists of employers who are in the fast food and restaurant business. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Directory of Restaurant and Fast Food Chains in Canada
    available at the Central Library, Level 4, Reference Resource, C380 D5983a
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “Restaurants” OR “fast food” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies

Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.

Networking and the Hidden Job Market:

When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.

Volunteer opportunities

  • Charity Village
    [under search box, select ‘volunteer listings, then enter ‘kitchen’ or ‘food’ or ‘food prep’]
  • Salvation Army
    Volunteer opportunities may be available in the Salvation Army’s meal programs, shelters, and transitional housing

For additional tips see:

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

For more information see:

Where Can This Job Lead?

Movement into other occupations within food preparation and service, such as cook or waiter, is possible with further training and experience. Individuals may also move into shift supervisor and management positions.

Where Can I Find More Information?

  • Restaurants Canada
    information on the restaurant and food service industry in BC and Canada