Chef and head cook essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $42,480
- 2012, number of jobs: 97,370
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: -1 percent
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
Chefs and head cooks; what they do:
Chef careers attract people with a love of cooking and all-things food. Chefs and head cooks manage daily food preparations, food-related issues and staff members at restaurants or other eating establishments. Managerial, business and marketing skills are also a large part of becoming a talented and efficient chef.
A chef career and head cook career involve monitoring food freshness and ingredients, managing, training and hiring other cooks and workers, planning menus and creating recipes, deciding on food presentation and ordering kitchen tools, equipment and supplies.
Chef careers and head cook careers include overseeing all equipment and supplies as well as work area sanitation and safety.
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Chef and head cook job titles:
- Executive Chef
- Pastry Chef
- Head Chef
- Chefs de Cuisine
- Sous Chefs
- Personal Chef
- Culinary Chef
Chefs and Head Cooks Education, Certification and License Requirements
Typically people need a high school diploma, formal training from a technical, culinary arts school or community college and experience to enter a head cook career. Some chefs learn skills through apprenticeships or in the armed forces.
Culinary programs and vocational schools offer classes under experienced chefs in areas including food sanitation procedures, kitchen work, menu planning and purchasing/inventory methods. Many programs require head cooks to gain real world kitchen experience through apprenticeships. Associations such as culinary institutes, and trade unions and the U.S. Department of Labor sponsor apprenticeships; they typically last for about two years.
Certification in the culinary arts can show competence in the field and aid in advancement, however certification is not required.
Chef and head cook programs cover subjects such as:
- Opening a specialty food market
- Knife skills
- Catering essentials
- Chocolate desserts
- Healthful cooking and vegetarian
- Flavors and ingredients
Chefs and Head Cooks Job Outlook
Forecast: little or no change for employment of chefs and head cooks from 2010 to 2020. The two factors driving an increase in chef and head cook employment are population and income growth and the need for higher-end cuisine at fine establishments. However, numerous restaurants using less trained cooks to save money decreases the demand for chefs and head cooks. Workers with a solid mixture of business and work experience as well as culinary creativity have the best chances for employment.
Chefs and Head Cooks Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $42,480
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $57,480
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $31,360
- Travel accommodations
- Special food services
- Amusement and recreation industries
- Limited-service eating establishments
- Full-service restaurants