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Becoming a professional chef opens the door to many different job opportunities. A question that many people ask is, “How much do chefs make?”
While geographic location plays an important role in salary, additional variables such as work experience and education also determine a chef’s income.
In this article, we examine how much chefs earn on average and what the average chef salary is by state. We also discuss what chefs can do to increase their salary options.
Why become a chef?
Here are some perks of pursuing a career in cooking that you won’t see on your paycheck:
For a chef, cooking is an incredible form of expression to share with others. You can create new recipes, experiment with ingredients, and even create your restaurant. Culinary arts are a great way to express your creativity through food.
Collaborate with other talented chefs
It’s a great way to surround yourself with creative, dedicated, and like-minded people. There are loads of incredibly talented people to work with in the kitchen every day.
Be your own Boss
If you prefer a flexible schedule, culinary art can take care of that. Talented chefs always have the opportunity to learn new things and work in different locations. If you are an independent person who values flexibility, the professional kitchen has a lot of potential.
Restaurants are always looking for skilled chefs and chefs, so there are plenty of career opportunities if you’re ready to learn new techniques, move to another location, or just want a change of pace. You could also consider a career as a personal chef for even more freedom.
Becoming a chef takes years of experience and hard work. You have to work long hours and have a great passion for the culinary arts to be successful in this industry. Entry-level jobs in the kitchen start with a very low salary. So you need to understand that there are many opportunities in this career path, but you will have to work hard to get them.
What Can Affect a Chef’s Salary?
There are a number of factors that can affect your income as a chef. Below are the most common factors that contribute to how much a chef makes annually:
As mentioned earlier, a chef’s geographic location can have a significant impact on how much he makes. The highest-paid state for chefs in 2016 was New Jersey, with Nevada, Kentucky, and Mississippi also paying above-average chef salaries.
Additionally, certain cities may pay more than other cities in the same state. Busy metropolitan areas often offer chefs a higher salary as many people see many places a chef works on a daily basis.
A chef’s job can also be a big factor in how much he can earn. While many chefs start their careers in restaurants, there are several other jobs that one should consider in order to earn a higher salary.
The highest-paying jobs include luxury resorts, world-class gourmet restaurants, performing arts companies, and as a private chef for individuals, families, or groups.
While most cooking positions do not require formal training, studying cooking or attending college education related to a career as a chef can increase your chances of getting higher salaries.
Formal training programs are offered by various community colleges, culinary institutes, and universities. Additionally, internships and voluntary certifications are another way to add value to your chef résumé.
As in many other professions, the more experience you have as a chef, the more likely it is that you will earn a higher salary. As mentioned before, becoming a chef at a higher level such as Chef, Sous Chef or Executive Chef can increase your income as a Chef significantly.
Chefs who work in larger locations or for large locations may receive a higher salary than those who work for smaller locations.
Cooks with more responsibility usually earn a higher salary than cooks with less responsibility. The responsibility a chef has depends largely on where he works, as well as his experience and level of education.
How much do chefs make?- Chef salary by title
There is a hierarchy in the culinary world to ensure food preparation is efficient and to have a clear understanding of the chain of command in a kitchen.
You come into this industry as a chef, as this is the entry-level title for employees in the kitchen. You have to work your way up the ladder and every title you win can help increase your pay.
These type of chefs typically spend around 20-60% of their day cooking, but they are an essential part of making sure the kitchen is running smoothly. A chef is responsible for hiring, labor and food costs, procurement and all kitchen operations.
During service, they taste ingredients, model presentations on the board for staff, and often work “the pass” where the food leaves the kitchen to go to the customers to ensure the presentation, timing, and quality of the food. The national average for an executive chef is $60,050 per year.
Chef De Cuisine
Chef De Cuisine differs from an Executive Chef in that he will focus almost exclusively on monitoring food production and have fewer administrative tasks.
You will have many of the same responsibilities, including hiring and training staff, overseeing food prep, and final prep. However, chefs tend to have an administrative role and are ultimately responsible for all aspects of a hospitality business.
The chefs remain more active in cooking and preparing food. As with any other position as a chef, it takes years of experience to earn this title. The national average for Chef De Cuisine is $53,712.
In some kitchens, the head chef is the same as an executive chef. Your main role is overseeing the entire kitchen operation, keeping an inventory, ordering supplies, and possibly even being responsible for training new employees. The national average for a head chef is $48,907 per year.
In many kitchens, a sous chef is the second oldest employee in the kitchen. You will report to the executive or the chef. The sous chef takes orders and helps implement the restaurant’s vision.
You will interact directly with the chefs making sure they have everything they need to prepare meals. A sous chef will make more decisions than the executive chef. The national average for a Sous chef is $ 48,606 per year.
Chefs Job Prospects
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for chefs is expected to grow by 11% from now through 2028, which is a much higher growth rate than other occupations in the United States.
Chefs will find opportunities in the foodservice industry, such as restaurants and other locations that serve food.