Also known as a restaurant cook, a cooking chef is a key employee in the kitchen. Their main duty is to prepare delicious meals for guests, and this comes with preparing ingredients, cooking dishes, plating, and keeping their work area tidy.

If you want to pursue the career of a cooking chef, you first need to be in love with food and cooking. Aside from that, you need to have adequate knowledge of how a restaurant kitchen operates, as well as basic to intermediate cooking techniques, depending on the menu of the restaurant you're applying for. Soft skills such as communication, time management, teamwork, and stress management are also crucial for a fast-paced environment such as a restaurant.

Culinary school education is preferred by many restaurants, but it is not a requirement. In many cases, work experience is much more important, so if you don't have culinary school education, garner more work experience to become a more attractive candidate.

Like many restaurant workers, the average salary of a cooking chef is around $11.68 per hour or $24,290 a year. If you pursue this job, you have the potential to increase your income by getting promoted to a higher level, such as a commis chef or sous chef.

What Does a Cooking Chef Do

There are certain skills that many cooking chefs have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed business skills, communication skills and creativity.

Learn more about what a Cooking Chef does

How To Become a Cooking Chef

If you're interested in becoming a cooking chef, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 18.5% of cooking chefs have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 3.4% of cooking chefs have master's degrees. Even though some cooking chefs have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

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Cooking Chef Job Description

A cooking chef is responsible for the preparation of food in a restaurant, hotel, or another food-providing place. Their duties include studying recipes, collecting and using appropriate ingredients, cooking in an appropriate time span, and monitoring inventory.

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Cooking Chef Career Paths

Average Salary for a Cooking Chef

Cooking Chefs in America make an average salary of $34,973 per year or $17 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $49,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $24,000 per year.
Average Cooking Chef Salary
$34,973 Yearly
$16.81 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Cooking Chef

The role of a cooking chef includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general cooking chef responsibilities:

  • Reviews menus prior to preparation of food performs administrative duties such as completing forms, reports, etc. Advises supervisor when supplies diminish for reorder assures all dietary procedures are followed. Must be able to operate all kitchen equipment safely
  • Manages the dietary department in the absence of the dietary director
  • Plan menus with an eye toward nutrition

There are several types of cooking chef, including:

Prep Cook


Under the direction of a head chef, you'll know exactly what to prepare for as a prep cook. It is essentially your job to make sure the food and kitchen area is prepped for the creation of delicious meals.

Typically, this is a part-time job. But you might be able to find a full-time position somewhere. In your position, you'll be working in a restaurant, hotel, or another establishment that serves food.

As a prep cook, you won't need much education to get by. In fact, the position doesn't require any formal education, but you will need to go through some training, once you're hired. And when we say training, we mean several weeks of on-the-job training. By the end of it, you'll be a sharp prep cook, ready to slice and dice.

  • Average Salary: $32,292
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Food Service Worker


Food service workers are employed in restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, and any other institution that offers dining services, such as schools, hospitals, or prisons. If you want to learn everything about food preparation and what it takes to be a restaurant manager or a top-notch chef, taking on a job as a food service worker is a great place to start.

Your job will be to assist kitchen staff in preparing meals. Your responsibilities include helping to keep the kitchen spotless, prepping ingredients, slicing, dicing, rinsing, and peeling while making sure all safety regulations are respected.

No experience is needed to be hired as a food service worker; you just have to be attentive and organized and respect the authority of your superiors, which in this case is basically everyone in the kitchen.

  • Average Salary: $28,753
  • Degree: High School Diploma



MMM, do you smell that? Working as a chef comes with some good-smelling perks, especially if you're good at what you do. Chefs are in charge of preparing food for establishments where food is served, typically restaurants.

The schedule of a chef varies widely depending on where you're cooking. Sometimes they work early mornings, late evenings, weekends and even holidays. Yes, people still want to eat your delicious food on Christmas

  • Average Salary: $46,824
  • Degree: Associate Degree

States With The Most Cooking Chef Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active cooking chef jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where cooking chefs earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Cooking Chef Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
8New York1,549$39,125
9North Carolina1,530$31,025
17New Jersey911$47,225
23South Carolina683$29,821
36West Virginia259$30,246
37New Mexico243$32,123
40New Hampshire183$44,875
45North Dakota113$35,810
46Rhode Island103$42,284
47South Dakota100$34,091

Cooking Chef Education

Cooking Chef Majors

14.3 %

Cooking Chef Degrees


30.9 %

High School Diploma

30.1 %


18.5 %

Top Colleges for Cooking Chefs

1. Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH • Private

In-State Tuition




3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




4. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




6. Southwest Minnesota State University

Marshall, MN • Private

In-State Tuition




7. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce

Mercedita, PR • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Cooking Chef

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 22.7% of cooking chefs listed food service on their resume, but soft skills such as business skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Food Service, 22.7%
  • Food Handling, 19.0%
  • Kitchen Equipment, 16.0%
  • Culinary, 10.0%
  • Cleanliness, 8.9%
  • Other Skills, 23.4%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Cooking Chef Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Cooking Chef templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Cooking Chef resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Cooking Chef diversity

Cooking Chef Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among cooking chefs, 23.7% of them are women, while 76.3% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among cooking chefs is White, which makes up 53.2% of all cooking chefs.

  • The most common foreign language among cooking chefs is Spanish at 52.9%.

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Best States For a Cooking Chef

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a cooking chef. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Hawaii, California, and New Hampshire. Cooking chefs make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $47,225. Whereas in Hawaii and California, they would average $47,164 and $45,776, respectively. While cooking chefs would only make an average of $44,875 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Nevada

Total Cooking Chef Jobs: 355
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Alaska

Total Cooking Chef Jobs: 138
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Michigan

Total Cooking Chef Jobs: 1,287
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Cooking Chefs

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Top Cooking Chef Employers

Most Common Employers For Cooking Chef

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1The Cheesecake Factory$39,097$18.808
2The Walt Disney Company$38,847$18.688
3Darden Restaurants$37,523$18.0410
5Outback Steakhouse$36,295$17.457
6Cracker Barrel$36,233$17.427
7Compass Group USA$35,128$16.897
9Whole Foods Market$33,913$16.309

Cooking Chef Videos