How Much Do Chefs Make

To become a Culinary Chef, you must have professional culinary training. To discover if this career is for you, take a free career quiz.

Being a chef can be physically demanding and sometimes dangerous. Chefs work with heat and sharp tools, and they spend most of their time on their feet working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. They also typically work long hours in the evening and on weekends and holidays.

Culinary Chef Salary

  • Average Annual Salary: $47,480
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,992,500

Chef – Education

The best way to put your self on track to become a professional chef is to be educated in the culinary arts. By attending a culinary school you will be able to learn different kitchen techniques, hygiene and sanitation need in the kitchen, as well as kitchen management.

Culinary school will expose you to different types of cuisines and preparation techniques that will allow you to become a successful chef. Don’t be just a cook, be the one who has mastered culinary art forms and provide creative input into the menu and presentations, become a top chef!

Culinary Schools Majors

Besides Chefs training culinary schools also provide majors in backing and pastry arts, professional cooking, kitchen management, and beverage management. Culinary schools will be able to help you find something that suits your interests. In case you don’t know, and want to take a closer look at some other direction, remember that many creative types choose to become pruner or tree trimmer.

Career Paths for a Culinary School Graduate

If the culinary arts are your passion and you just received your degree from culinary school there are many different career choices for you.

  • Executive Chef
  • Sous Chef
  • Pastry Chef
  • Personal Chef
  • Research Chefs
  • Hotel and Resort Management
  • Restaurant and Food Service Management

Top Culinary Schools

  • French Culinary Institute of New York City
  • Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute
  • Kendall College
  • California Culinary Academy
  • Culinary Institute of America
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Texas Culinary Academy
  • New England Culinary Institute
  • Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
  • Culinary Institute at Hyde Park NY

Career Goals For Head Chef

As a kitchen manager or head chef, you would use your knowledge and experience of professional cooking to lead a team of staff and efficiently run a kitchen.

Head Chef Job Duties Include:

  • A: cleaning the kitchen area (in line with food hygiene, and health and safety laws).
  • B: preparing and cooking food
  • C: controlling a budget and keeping accurate records
  • D: planning menus managing stock
  • E: making sure food is of the right quality and price and is produced on time
  • F: ordering food from suppliers organizing the staff duty rota.

Career Goals For Head Chef:

  • A: Seeking a challenging yet rewarding position as a senior-level chef within the hospitality industry, which offers longevity, growth, and room for creativity.
  • B: To obtain a position as a Sous Chef and at the same time growing with the company.
  • C: To obtain a position which would enable me to advance in the Food Industry, and show my ability to work with people.
  • D: Seeking: Full-time permanent job, potential for advancement a plus. Willing to work any shifts, but would like to work into a basically regular shift schedule (understanding that there is a need to be flexible at times or be available to cover for someone who has called in sick).

Help you progress in your career:

  • A: Practical safe handling habits that exceed company standard, prepare and cook foods all type, either on a regular basis or for special guests or functions, punctual, reliable, hardworking, language, English, French, and Spanish.Experienced in staff management and training.
  • B: Understanding of customer service, including customer satisfaction and retention.
  • C: Ability to produce cost effective quality delicious food.
  • D:Proving ability to produce quickly under pressure without sacrificing quality of food.

Note: Examples should be edited to fit your personal situation. Want to see if culinary school is right for you? Take a career aptitude and personality test here.

How to get a sous chef job

A sous chef (translated into English as ‘under, or deputy chef’) is the second in command and their duties include the running of the kitchen in the head chef’s absence. It’s effectively a management job: they are what links kitchen staff to the head and executive chefs. The sous chef is responsible for supervising the kitchen staff in a mediating and administrative capacity. This includes drawing up rotas and resolving any conflict. They are accountable for ensuring all kitchen staff are doing what they ought to be doing.

Additionally, they will act as a mentor to kitchen staff, demonstrating how to correctly use each piece of equipment, how to prepare certain dishes and foods to the required standard and emphasize kitchen hygiene regulations.

As the right-hand man, the sous chef will often have to step into the head chef’s shoes; ensuring the quality of ingredients used, adhering to cost restrictions, checking plates before they are sent out and cooking particular signature dishes. They may also need to placate disgruntled diners, should any complaints arise.

It is a sometimes grueling and challenging job but ultimately, is very satisfying work. So, how do you get a sous chef job? There are, as with any profession, a variety of routes, but it’s mainly a case of building up experience in the kitchen. As a management job, the sous chef will have already gained their cooking experience through a variety of eateries, be it the local cafe, a swanky bistro or the restaurant.

Some will have gained a degree at a culinary school, however, without formal qualifications, it’s possible to build up work experience through starting as a dish washer in a pub or restaurant. Time spent observing how the kitchen works and how food is prepared could then lead to progression as junior kitchen staff. Some establishments might offer apprenticeships in partnership with local colleges. You can then become a Commis Chef (a trainee chef).

There are plenty of dedicated agencies who specialize in chef employment but to boost your chances of success, join local cookery classes, go on courses and read up on the food industry to express your interest. Think of examples when you have worked in a stressful environment and relate to how it has prepared you for a sous chef role.

Practice recipes at home and develop your own dishes. Relay them to more experienced chefs or suggest ways to tweak and improve existing dishes.
There may not be a defined career path in the restaurant, so express your interest for progression to your manager, demonstrating the steps you’ve taken to reach the next level.