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Become A Chef

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Working As A Chef

  • 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

  • $43,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Chef 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

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 Career Paths

Chef
Executive Chef General Manager
Director Of Food And Beverage
9 Yearsyrs
Executive Chef Kitchen Manager Restaurant Manager
Restaurant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Chef Kitchen Manager Store Manager
Multi-Unit Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman General Manager
Operating Partner
8 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Foreman General Manager
Consultant General Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Store Manager
General Manager In Training
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Store Manager Food Service Director
Director Of Food And Nutrition Services
9 Yearsyrs
Driver Field Service Technician Service Manager
Culinary Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager Assistant Director
Director Of Catering
6 Yearsyrs
Corporate Executive Chef Kitchen Manager Dietary Manager
Certified Dietary Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Consultant Owner/Operator Food Service Manager
Assistant Food Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Supervisor Restaurant Manager
Hospitality Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Manager Food And Beverage Manager
Clubhouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Owner/Operator Food Service Manager
Food Production Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Senior Technician Specialist Food Service Director
Nutrition Director
7 Yearsyrs
Chef/Catering Lead Cook Dietary Manager
Nutrition Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Coach Senior Technician Specialist Food Service Director
Food Safety Director
8 Yearsyrs
Chef/Catering Lead Cook Food Service Manager
General Service Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Chef/Catering Lead Cook Food Service Supervisor
Cafeteria Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Corporate Executive Chef Owner Owner And Sales
Restaurant Owner
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Executive Chef 5.6 years
Chef Instructor 3.4 years
Head Chef 3.2 years
Chef 3.0 years
Chef/Catering 2.9 years
Cooking Chef 2.9 years
Pastry Chef 2.9 years
Sous Chef 2.9 years
Chef De Cuisine 2.8 years
Banquet Chef 2.7 years
Culinary Chef 2.6 years
Sushi Chef 2.5 years
Chef De Partie 2.3 years
Assistant Chef 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
Sous Chef 16.1%
Line Cook 11.9%
Cook 11.3%
Cashier 4.4%
Manager 3.5%
Prep Cook 3.3%
Internship 3.1%
Head Chef 3.1%
Server 2.6%
Lead Cook 2.6%
Top Careers After Chef
Sous Chef 14.4%
Cook 9.3%
Line Cook 7.3%
Manager 3.8%
Head Chef 3.7%
Cashier 3.2%
Chef/Owner 2.8%
Server 2.6%
Lead Cook 2.2%

Do you work as a Chef?

Average Yearly Salary
$43,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
Min 10%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Carnival Cruise Line
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
New Jersey
Avg Experience Level
2.6 years
How much does a Chef make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Chef in the United States is $43,680 per year or $21 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $70,000.

Real Chef Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Development Chef NestlÉ R&D Center, Inc. Solon, OH Jul 28, 2016 $100,000 -
$120,000
Chef Veronica and Josephine Corp New York, NY May 04, 2015 $98,259
Chef/Cookbook Developer Formac Inc. Irving, TX Sep 08, 2016 $87,360
Chef Gent's Enterprises Inc. New York, NY Apr 14, 2015 $79,997
In House Chef Gotham Industries LLC New York, NY Jul 29, 2015 $79,352
Specialty Chef Yee FATT Corp. Hoboken, NJ Jul 22, 2015 $79,352
Chef Bridgewater Associates, LP Westport, CT Jan 21, 2016 $78,125 -
$155,550
Chief Chef, Japanese Sugio LLC New York, NY Feb 17, 2016 $77,938
Indian Continental Fusion Chef Rasika West End, LLC. Washington, DC Apr 29, 2016 $73,070
Indian Continental Fusion Chef Rasika, LLC Washington, DC Feb 12, 2015 $73,070
Chef Jawid Inc. D/B/A Charcoal Kabob Herndon, VA Dec 14, 2016 $73,070
Chef Il Sole LLC NY Oct 24, 2016 $68,000
Chef Mediterranean Food Greek Kitchen Inc. New York, NY Mar 22, 2016 $68,000
Chef, Japanese Specialty Sushi Land, Inc. Bryn Mawr, PA Jul 27, 2015 $51,958
Chef Indian Delhi Palace, Inc. Phoenix, AZ May 01, 2015 $51,862
Chef Hunan Chef Hwy 6 Houston, TX Apr 16, 2015 $51,834
Chef-Korean Foods Pon Kap Yang D/B/A Seoul Garden Houston, TX Jun 10, 2015 $51,834
Chef, Chinese Specialty (Pastry) Fu Lam Moon Kun Kee, Inc. Fremont, CA Jun 23, 2016 $51,834
Chef, Chinese Specialty (Pastry) Fu Lam Moon Kun Kee, Inc. Fremont, CA Aug 08, 2016 $51,834
Oriental Specialty Chef Evergreen Hospitality, LLC DBA Jade Dragon Merrimack, NH Sep 30, 2016 $51,688
Chef Three D Corporation Washington, DC Nov 12, 2015 $51,667
Specialty Chef JSJ-Sc Project, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Oct 15, 2015 $45,302
Korean Sundae Chef Jangtu Restaurant Sunnyvale, CA Sep 22, 2015 $45,302
Korean Chef Sudam Inc. Los Altos, CA Sep 09, 2015 $45,302
Korean Chef Sunny & John, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Dec 22, 2015 $45,302
Korean Chef Sudam Inc. Los Altos, CA May 17, 2016 $45,302
Japanese Food Chef Sushiyobee, LLC (D/B/A Sushiyobi) Nashville, TN Apr 11, 2015 $45,282
Korean Chef JD Entertainment, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Jan 28, 2016 $45,198
Chef May's Sushi, Inc. Santa Cruz, CA Sep 25, 2015 $45,136

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Top Skills for A Chef

  1. Food Preparation
  2. Kitchen Areas
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised or coordinated activities of cooks and workers engaged in food preparation.
  • Supervised regular maintenance and cleaning of grills and other kitchen areas
  • Demonstrate commitment to providing excellent customer service to both internal and external customers.
  • Lead pantry cook in charge of inventory of the station, prepared salads, and desserts during lunch and dinner service.
  • Full menu development and implementation.

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Top 10 Best States for Chefs

  1. Hawaii
  2. Delaware
  3. Connecticut
  4. Texas
  5. Nevada
  6. Washington
  7. Georgia
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Alaska
  10. Wyoming
  • (45 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)
  • (106 jobs)
  • (649 jobs)
  • (140 jobs)
  • (206 jobs)
  • (217 jobs)
  • (353 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)

Chef Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 53,484 Chef resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Chef Resume

View Resume Examples

Chef Demographics

Gender

Male

66.0%

Female

23.5%

Unknown

10.5%
Ethnicity

White

61.1%

Hispanic or Latino

15.7%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

8.5%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.5%

French

14.9%

Italian

10.4%

German

3.9%

Japanese

3.2%

Arabic

3.0%

Chinese

2.8%

Portuguese

2.1%

Korean

1.6%

Mandarin

1.5%

Thai

1.5%

Russian

1.4%

Greek

1.4%

Polish

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Hindi

0.6%

Swedish

0.5%

Hawaiian

0.5%

Cantonese

0.5%

Dutch

0.4%
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Chef Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

25.9%

Culinary Institute of America

24.1%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

8.9%

The Academy

5.6%

University of Phoenix

5.1%

Arizona Culinary Institute

3.8%

New England Culinary Institute

2.8%

Art Institute of Atlanta

2.6%

French Culinary Institute

2.2%

Johnson County Community College

2.1%

Sullivan University

2.0%

Baltimore International College

2.0%

Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago

1.9%

Art Institute of Houston

1.7%

Schoolcraft College

1.7%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts - Scottsdale

1.7%

Kaplan University

1.6%

Michigan State University

1.5%

Ashford University

1.5%

Stratford University

1.4%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

43.9%

Business

13.4%

Hospitality Management

7.0%

Management

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.2%

Food And Nutrition

3.2%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Psychology

2.7%

General Studies

2.5%

Accounting

2.0%

Education

2.0%

Computer Science

1.9%

Communication

1.7%

English

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Nursing

1.5%

Graphic Design

1.4%

Biology

1.4%

Marketing

1.3%

Fine Arts

1.3%
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Degrees

Other

35.8%

Associate

25.9%

Bachelors

24.3%

Certificate

6.7%

Masters

3.5%

Diploma

3.2%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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How Would You Rate Working As a Chef?

Are you working as a Chef? Help us rate Chef as a Career.

Top Chef Employers

Jobs From Top Chef Employers

Chef Videos

Modern Apprenticeships: Being a chef

Becoming a Chef: Advice from Nick Nairn

Career Advice on becoming a Head Chef by Paul Z (Highlights)

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