Chef Career Field

ChefsCareer Overview

Chefs are also known as head cooks. Their main job responsibilities include directing other chefs in the kitchen, managing menu selections, dealing with food-related matters in restaurants and kitchens, and providing leadership. Chefs are generally the most skilled cook in the kitchen. They use their experience, skill, and creativity to develop tantalizing menu items that keep customers coming back for more. In smaller restaurants and eateries, chefs can also serve as food preparation and serving supervisors. They are responsible to manage both kitchen and non-kitchen staff. They direct food workers in fast food, cafeteria, and casual dining eateries. In these locations, the menu doesn’t change very often.  Executive chefs or chefs de cuisine are responsible for coordinating the work of other chefs in higher end restaurants.

Education Requirements

Associate’s Degree (2 years) Hospitality or Culinary Arts
Bachelor’s Degree (4 years) Hospitality or Culinary Arts

Most employers prefer to hire chefs and head cooks who have received formal secondary training from a culinary institute or trade school in culinary arts or hospitality with an associate’s degree (2 years of training) or even a bachelor’s degree (4 years of training). This being said, some chefs work their way up through the ranks by getting on the job experience and eventually being promoted to the position of head cook or chef. Chefs wishing to work in the highest levels of the culinary industry for large and elite restaurants must often have years of experience and culinary arts training from selective culinary arts schools.


Menu Planning
Portion Control
Sanitation and Safe Food Handling Procedures
Computer Accounting
Banquet Service & Catering
Food Service Management

Licensing Requirements and Certifications

In most states, employees handling food must have food handlers permit issued for the state they work in. Many states also require those handling and preparing food to have a health certificate stating that they are free on any communicable disease.

School Recommendations

Le Cordon Bleu
The Art Institutes
Kitchen Academy
Johnson and Wales
French Culinary Institute

Employment Trends

Jobs Available for chefs 2008: 108,300
Projected job openings for chefs through 2018: 108,500
Average Annual Salaries for chefs in 2008: $38,770

Related Jobs

Cooks and food preparation workers
Food Processing Occupations
Food and beverage serving and related workers
Food service managers

Article Reference: Bureau of Labor Statistics





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