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Career profile Chef

Also known as Banquet Chef; Certified Executive Chef (CEC); Chef; Chef, Instructor; Cook; Corporate Executive Chef; Executive Chef (Ex Chef); Executive Sous Chef; Head Cook; Line Cook

Chef

Also known as Banquet Chef; Certified Executive Chef (CEC); Chef; Chef, Instructor; Cook; Corporate Executive Chef; Executive Chef (Ex Chef); Executive Sous Chef; Head Cook; Line Cook

Interests Profile
  • Enterprising
  • Realistic
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$30,300 - $90,790 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Coordination
  • Speaking
  • Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Food Production
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Monitor sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.
  • Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
  • Determine production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
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What does a Chef do?

Chefs direct and may participate in the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other foods.

In addition, Chefs may plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts.

What kind of tasks does a Chef perform regularly?

Chefs are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Monitor sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.
  • Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
  • Determine production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
  • Check the quantity and quality of received products.
  • Supervise or coordinate activities of cooks or workers engaged in food preparation.
  • Determine how food should be presented and create decorative food displays.
  • Analyze recipes to assign prices to menu items, based on food, labor, and overhead costs.
  • Instruct cooks or other workers in the preparation, cooking, garnishing, or presentation of food.
  • Prepare and cook foods of all types, either on a regular basis or for special guests or functions.
  • Recruit and hire staff, such as cooks and other kitchen workers.
  • Order or requisition food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
  • Coordinate planning, budgeting, or purchasing for all the food operations within establishments such as clubs, hotels, or restaurant chains.
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, or work areas to ensure conformance to established standards.
  • Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
  • Record production or operational data on specified forms.
  • Plan, direct, or supervise food preparation or cooking activities of multiple kitchens or restaurants in an establishment such as a restaurant chain, hospital, or hotel.
  • Arrange for equipment purchases or repairs.
  • Collaborate with other personnel to plan and develop recipes or menus, taking into account such factors as seasonal availability of ingredients or the likely number of customers.
  • Demonstrate new cooking techniques or equipment to staff.
  • Meet with customers to discuss menus for special occasions, such as weddings, parties, or banquets.
  • Meet with sales representatives to negotiate prices or order supplies.

The above responsibilities are specific to Chefs. More generally, Chefs are involved in several broader types of activities:

Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Developing and Building Teams
Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
Coaching and Developing Others
Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Training and Teaching Others
Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

What is a Chef salary?

The median salary for a Chef is $53,380, and the average salary is $58,740. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Chef salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Chefs earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Chefs earn less than $30,300 per year, 25% earn less than $39,420, 75% earn less than $71,350, and 90% earn less than $90,790.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Chefs is expected to change by 25.3%, and there should be roughly 18,800 open positions for Chefs every year.

Median annual salary
$53,380
Typical salary range
$30,300 - $90,790
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
25.3%

What personality traits are common among Chefs?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Chef are usually higher in their Enterprising, Realistic, and Artistic interests.

Chefs typically have very strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Also, Chefs typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Chefs typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Chef tend to value Independence, Recognition, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Chefs very strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Chefs strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Lastly, Chefs strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Chefs must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, initiative, and leadership.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Chefs, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Leadership
Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Chefs need?

Chefs often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Chefs usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Chefs

  • 16.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 30.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.6% completed some college coursework
  • 16.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 13.5% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Chefs

Chefs may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as food production, customer and personal service, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Chefs might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Personnel and Human Resources
Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Important Abilities needed by Chefs

Chefs must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Chefs need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Chefs, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Critical Skills needed by Chefs

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Chefs frequently use skills like coordination, speaking, and monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Chefs, ranked by their relative importance.

Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.