Chef Salary & Career Outlook

The duties of a chef vary widely depending on the setting. He or she may be responsible for preparing delicious food, planning menus, keeping kitchens safe and clean, hiring and training staff, ordering and inventory, and pricing and cost control. Nowadays, many employers want chefs that have leadership and business skills, like accounting and marketing, to ensure that their business is profitable.

Chef Training

With your love of cooking, you can bring your culinary talents to a new level with professional chef training. You'll learn about knives and equipment, pastry arts, cuisine styles, wine studies, and nutrition. In addition to honing your cooking and baking skills, you can develop your ability to effectively run an entire kitchen with leadership, managerial, and business skills.

Certificate and diploma chef training programs may take less than a year, while associate's degrees generally last two years. For the most in-depth education and preparation for the widest range of work, consider a four-year bachelor's degree. Associate's and bachelor's degrees often require an internship, which can give you a realistic experience of kitchen work, as well as provide you with employment connections after you graduate.

Depending on your needs, you might consider chef training online. If you already have extensive kitchen and cooking experience, you can advance your career with the business, financial, and managerial skills necessary for running your own or someone else's business. Classes via the computer can be ideal, allowing you to skip the commute and continue working while you earn your degree.

Chef Salary, 2009 Data

The BLS reports that the mean annual chef salary in 2009 was $44,240, with some industries paying more, including management of corporations and enterprises at $67,070, the federal executive branch at $63,10, and accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services at $62,740.

The states that paid the highest chef salaries were New Jersey at $50,120, Rhode Island at $56,120, and Connecticut at $54,480. The metropolitan areas that paid the most for chef jobs were New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ at $80,940; Ithaca, New York at $67,990; and Naples-Marco Island, Florida at $61,380.

Job Outlook for Chefs

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that chefs with formal training may have better job prospects, especially at upscale venues where the pay tends to be better. With either a traditional degree or chef training online, you can prepare to find work in a range of different settings, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Cruise ships
  • Universities and government agencies
  • Corporations
  • Catering or personal chef business

According to the BLS, chef jobs are expected to grow at a rate of six percent through 2018, mainly due to people leaving the occupation. Industries that employed the most chefs included full service restaurants, traveler accommodations, and special food services.

The BLS reported that states that employed the most chefs per thousand workers were Nevada, Idaho, and Alaska. The metropolitan areas that employed the most chefs per thousand workers were Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada, Brunswick, Georgia, and Barnstable Town, Massachusetts.

With such a wide range of job possibilities and great salaries to go with them, becoming a chef could be an ideal career path. Combine your desire to cook with some professional chef training and you can be on your way.