A Head Cook, aka the chef, is responsible for running a kitchen, usually in a high-end establishment. They delegate tasks and oversee the work of everyone involved in food preparation, making sure that the result is nothing but exquisite delicacies. They come up with new recipes, create the menu, and make sure the necessary ingredients are always in stock.

Head cooks are deeply passionate about cooking. They live and die for tasty food and know a lot about other countries' culinary cultures. They consider their profession art, rather than anything else, and just like a poet has a favorite pen, you will recognize an authentic head cook by the fact that he/she favors one knife over all others.

Not that salaries matter to a real artist; just for your information, head cooks in the U.S. make an average of $48,098 per year.

What Does a Head Cook Do

There are certain skills that many head cooks 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 Head Cook does

How To Become a Head Cook

If you're interested in becoming a head cook, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 15.5% of head cooks have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 0.9% of head cooks have master's degrees. Even though some head cooks have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Head Cook

Head Cook Career Paths

Average Salary for a Head Cook

Head Cooks in America make an average salary of $44,412 per year or $21 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $61,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $32,000 per year.
Average Head Cook Salary
$44,412 Yearly
$21.35 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Head Cook

There are several types of head cook, including:



So, get this - as a cook, you'll spend a lot of your time cooking. Crazy, we know. But that's not all you'll be doing. In addition to the food actually being cooked properly, most people like it to be seasoned. Between the preparation and seasoning, this is where you get to be creative.

When you think of a cook, you probably think of a restaurant setting but in actuality, cooks are needed in a lot of different places, this includes schools, hospitals, and even private households. One thing that is consistent is the inconsistent schedule.

Sometimes you'll work a night shift, other times you'll work super early in the morning. You may even have to work on a holiday. And don't be surprised with a weekend shift. The good news is that formal education isn't really necessary. Sometimes culinary creativity comes naturally.

  • Average Salary: $31,803
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Line Cook


As a sort of in-charge person, line cooks definitely have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. While you might think the head chef does most of the heavy lifting, think again. The majority of the food is prepared by the line cook.

Now, the head chef, or even the sous chef, give line cooks the direction they need to make the food. Typically, as a line cook, you'll have a particular place in the kitchen that you'll look after. Like, maybe you'll get assigned to the grill, and then you'll be in charge of everything at the grill. Or you might be assigned to the veggie prep area.

Wherever you are assigned, you should be prepared to work some crazy hours. Since you're preparing the food, you'll need at least an hour, if not two, to get everything ready. Once your line is prepped, then you're ready to take on your shift. With that extra 1-2 hours, you'll probably be working around 8-10 hours a shift.

  • Average Salary: $32,894
  • Degree: High School Diploma

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

States With The Most Head Cook Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Head Cook Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
7North Carolina1,977$42,007
9New York1,834$46,693
18New Jersey1,021$71,162
19South Carolina984$39,651
36New Mexico375$41,803
39West Virginia251$37,397
41New Hampshire191$46,927
44Rhode Island148$54,147
46North Dakota114$40,558
47South Dakota104$38,748

Head Cook Education

Head Cook Majors

18.0 %

Head Cook Degrees

High School Diploma

42.4 %


24.3 %


15.5 %

Top Colleges for Head Cooks

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




3. Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




6. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




7. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Alfred, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




8. SUNY College of Technology at Delhi

Delhi, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




9. University of Charleston

Charleston, WV • Private

In-State Tuition




10. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Head Cook

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, 41.2% of head cooks listed kitchen equipment on their resume, but soft skills such as business skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Kitchen Equipment, 41.2%
  • Meal Preparation, 15.1%
  • Food Service, 7.3%
  • Food Preparation, 3.0%
  • Quality Standards, 2.7%
  • Other Skills, 30.7%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Head Cook Resume templates

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

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Head Cook diversity

Head Cook Gender Distribution


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

  • Among head cooks, 36.5% of them are women, while 63.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among head cooks is White, which makes up 57.9% of all head cooks.

  • The most common foreign language among head cooks is Spanish at 65.4%.

Online Courses For Head Cook That You May Like

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Best States For a Head Cook

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a head cook. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Hawaii, Washington, and Texas. Head cooks make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $71,162. Whereas in Hawaii and Washington, they would average $59,571 and $56,621, respectively. While head cooks would only make an average of $56,176 in Texas, 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. Texas

Total Head Cook Jobs: 5,199
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Nevada

Total Head Cook Jobs: 402
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. New Jersey

Total Head Cook Jobs: 1,021
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Head Cooks

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Top Head Cook Employers

Most Common Employers For Head Cook

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Chili's Grill & Bar$59,762$28.7329
2Bob Evans Restaurants$50,146$24.1128
3Cracker Barrel$47,061$22.6333
4Buffalo Wild Wings$44,410$21.3569
6Applebee's Canada$38,387$18.4675
7Panda Express$38,239$18.3862
8Church's Chicken$37,806$18.1831
9Ruby Tuesday$37,400$17.9840
10Golden Corral$36,170$17.3943