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Become A Chef/Catering

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Working As A Chef/Catering

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $48,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Chef/Catering Do

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

Duties

Chefs and head cooks typically do the following:

  • Check the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Develop recipes and determine how to present dishes
  • Plan menus and ensure the quality of meals
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas for cleanliness and functionality
  • Hire, train, and supervise cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Order and maintain an inventory of food and supplies
  • Monitor sanitation practices and follow kitchen safety standards

Chefs and head cooks use a variety of kitchen and cooking equipment, including step-in coolers, high-quality knives, meat slicers, and grinders. They also have access to large quantities of meats, spices, and produce. Some chefs use scheduling and purchasing software to help them in their administrative tasks.

Chefs who run their own restaurant or catering business are often busy with kitchen and office work. Some chefs use social media to promote their business by advertising new menu items or addressing customer reviews.

The following are examples of types of chefs and head cooks:

Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine are responsible primarily for overseeing the operation of a kitchen. They coordinate the work of sous chefs and other cooks, who prepare most of the meals. Executive chefs also have many duties beyond the kitchen. They design the menu, review food and beverage purchases, and often train cooks and other food preparation workers. Some executive chefs primarily handle administrative tasks and may spend less time in the kitchen.

Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They supervise the restaurant’s cooks, prepare meals, and report results to the head chefs. In the absence of the head chef, sous chefs run the kitchen.

Private household chefs typically work full time for one client, such as a corporate executive, university president, or diplomat, who regularly entertains as part of his or her official duties.

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How To Become A Chef/Catering

Most chefs and head cooks learn their skills through work experience. Others receive training at a community college, technical school, culinary arts school, or 4-year college. A small number learn through apprenticeship programs or in the Armed Forces.

Education

Although postsecondary education is not required for chefs and head cooks, many attend programs at community colleges, technical schools, culinary arts schools, and 4-year colleges. Candidates are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent to enter these programs.

Students in culinary programs spend most of their time in kitchens, practicing their cooking skills. Programs cover all aspects of kitchen work, including menu planning, food sanitation procedures, and purchasing and inventory methods. Most training programs also require students to gain experience in a commercial kitchen through an internship or apprenticeship program.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most chefs and head cooks start working in other positions, such as line cooks, learning cooking skills from the chefs they work for. Many spend years working in kitchens before gaining enough experience to be promoted to chef or head cook positions.

Training

Some chefs and head cooks train on the job, where they learn the same skills as in a formal education program. Some train in mentorship programs, where they work under the direction of an experienced chef. Executive chefs, head cooks, and sous chefs who work in upscale restaurants often have many years of training and experience.

Some chefs and head cooks learn through apprenticeship programs sponsored by professional culinary institutes, industry associations, or trade unions in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeship programs generally last 2 years and combine instructions and on-the-job training. Apprentices must complete at least 1,000 hours of both instructions and paid on-the-job training. Courses typically cover food sanitation and safety, basic knife skills, and equipment operation. Apprentices spend the rest of their training learning practical skills in a commercial kitchen under a chef's supervision.

The American Culinary Federation accredits more than 200 academic training programs at postsecondary schools and sponsors apprenticeships around the country. The basic qualifications required for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 17
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Passing grade in substance abuse screening

Some chefs and head cooks receive formal training in the Armed Forces or from individual hotel or restaurant chains.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can show competence and lead to advancement and higher pay. The American Culinary Federation certifies personal chefs, in addition to various levels of chefs, such as certified sous chefs or certified executive chefs. Certification standards are based primarily on work-related experience and formal training. Minimum work experience for certification can range from 6 months to 5 years, depending on the level of certification.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Executive chefs and chefs who run their own restaurant need to understand the restaurant business. They should know how to budget for supplies, set prices, and manage workers so that the restaurant is profitable.

Communication skills. Chefs must communicate their instructions clearly and effectively to staff so that customers’ orders are prepared correctly.

Creativity. Chefs and head cooks need to be creative in order to develop and prepare interesting and innovative recipes. They should be able to use various ingredients to create appealing meals for their customers.

Dexterity. Chefs and head cooks need excellent manual dexterity, including proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing.

Leadership skills. Chefs and head cooks must have the ability to motivate kitchen staff and develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with them.

Physical stamina. Chefs and head cooks often work long shifts and sometimes spend entire evenings on their feet, overseeing the preparation and serving of meals.

Sense of taste and smell. Chefs and head cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell in order to inspect food quality and to design meals that their customers enjoy.

Time-management skills. Chefs and head cooks must efficiently manage their time and the time of their staff. They ensure that meals are prepared correctly and that customers are served on time, especially during busy hours.

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Chef/Catering Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Executive Chef 5.6 years
Private Chef 3.5 years
Chef Instructor 3.4 years
Head Chef 3.2 years
Chef/Catering 3.0 years
Sous Chef 2.9 years
Cooking Chef 2.9 years
Pastry Chef 2.9 years
Chef De Cuisine 2.8 years
Banquet Chef 2.7 years
Chef 2.6 years
Sushi Chef 2.5 years
Assistant Chef 2.3 years
Chef De Partie 2.3 years
Line Chef 2.1 years
Kitchen Chef 2.1 years
Prep Chef 1.7 years
Pantry Chef 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Chef/Catering
Sous Chef 16.9%
Chef 13.7%
Line Cook 10.4%
Cook 5.9%
Internship 3.2%
Head Chef 3.0%
Lead Cook 2.6%
Prep Cook 2.2%
Manager 1.9%
Chef/Owner 1.9%
Top Careers After Chef/Catering
Chef 15.8%
Sous Chef 12.8%
Line Cook 6.1%
Cook 6.0%
Chef/Owner 3.3%
Head Chef 2.9%
Lead Cook 1.9%
Manager 1.6%
Owner 1.6%

Do you work as a Chef/Catering?

Chef/Catering Demographics

Gender

Male

63.8%

Female

26.2%

Unknown

10.0%
Ethnicity

White

62.3%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

32.3%

French

19.2%

Italian

12.1%

Japanese

5.1%

Thai

4.0%

Chinese

4.0%

German

4.0%

Arabic

4.0%

Portuguese

3.0%

Russian

2.0%

Swedish

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Romanian

1.0%

Dutch

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Danish

1.0%

Indonesian

1.0%

Yoruba

1.0%

Turkish

1.0%
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Chef/Catering Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

28.2%

Culinary Institute of America

26.9%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

7.6%

Arizona Culinary Institute

4.4%

Art Institute of Atlanta

3.4%

University of Phoenix

2.9%

Baltimore International College

2.7%

New England Culinary Institute

2.7%

The Academy

2.5%

Sullivan University

2.3%

Orange Coast College

1.9%

Art Institute of Philadelphia

1.9%

Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

1.7%

French Culinary Institute

1.7%

Art Institute of California - Inland

1.7%

New York Law School

1.5%

Art Institute of Houston

1.5%

Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago

1.5%

Schoolcraft College

1.5%

Diablo Valley College

1.5%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

51.2%

Business

10.1%

Hospitality Management

9.7%

Management

4.6%

Food And Nutrition

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

Education

2.2%

English

1.5%

Fine Arts

1.4%

Marketing

1.4%

Liberal Arts

1.3%

Criminal Justice

1.3%

Psychology

1.3%

Accounting

1.2%

Information Technology

1.1%

Computer Science

1.0%

General Studies

1.0%

Graphic Design

1.0%

Communication

0.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.9%
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Degrees

Other

32.6%

Associate

31.1%

Bachelors

23.4%

Certificate

7.2%

Masters

2.8%

Diploma

2.2%

Doctorate

0.5%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$48,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
Min 10%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Compass Diversified Holdings
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Colorado
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Chef/Catering make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Chef/Catering in the United States is $48,372 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $82,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Chef/Catering?

Have you worked as a Chef/Catering? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Chef/Catering.

Top Skills for A Chef/Catering

  1. Menu Items
  2. Food Safety
  3. Kitchen Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised procurement and delivery of food ingredients as needed for catering menu items.
  • Monitored and maintained records of refrigerated food storage conditions to ensure food safety.
  • Operated grill, deli station and all kitchen equipment and assisted with salad bar set-up and prep.
  • Planned lunch, dinner and bar menus, as well as special menus for in-house special events and catering.
  • Communicated with clients to insure optimum customer service by implementing company standards.

How Would You Rate Working As a Chef/Catering?

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Top 10 Best States for Chef/Caterings

  1. Vermont
  2. Delaware
  3. Connecticut
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Hawaii
  7. Colorado
  8. Maine
  9. New Jersey
  10. New York
  • (16 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (81 jobs)
  • (185 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (166 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (101 jobs)
  • (297 jobs)

Top Chef/Catering Employers

Jobs From Top Chef/Catering Employers

Chef/Catering Videos

Cruise Ship Executive Chef: A Day With The General""

SME ตีแตก [2010] : The Chef Catering (30 ก.ค. 53)

A Day in the Life Offshore

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