Job Outlook for Chefs

Job Outlook for Chefs

Nov 4, 2014 | 12:00 pm

There really has never been a better time to be a chef. With the rise of the celebrity-chef in full swing, and the upturn in diners seeking out higher quality offerings at restaurants, the job outlook for chefs should be pretty good. Just remember that when a career is hot, the competition is stiff. We’ve got the information you need to help you take advantage of one of the hottest careers going.

Outlook and Forecasts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 115,400 chefs working in the United States, in 2012. The BLS predicts that by the year 2022, the U.S. will add an additional 6,000 chef positions, bringing the total number of chefs working in the United States up to 121,500. This represents a 5% increase in total chef jobs—unfortunately, this represents a slower than average growth in jobs for chefs over the next ten years.

Salaries are expected to remain competitive with a median annual wage for chefs and head cooks around $42,480. Pay for chefs can be difficult to get a solid handle on since salaries will vary widely depending on the location, quality of the restaurant, and even industry. For example, chefs working in the casino industry average $52,750 while a chef working in a grocery store averages just $39,180 a year.

Location also plays a big part in a chef’s salary. Chefs working in Washington, DC average $60,590 per year, while chefs working in Southwest Idaho are only averaging $31,280 per year.

Getting Ahead of the Competition

A hot career combined with slower than average job growth over the next ten years means that competition for chef jobs, especially those highly coveted jobs in the best restaurants, will be stiff. To stand above the competition with a less than stellar job outlook for chefs, you will need to do everything you can to ensure you are at the top of your art and craft. The good news is that, just like in any other industry, the best chefs will always rise to the top. But, how do you become one of the best chefs?

A culinary arts degree is nearly mandatory for any chef job, especially for the prime jobs in the best restaurants. The quality of culinary schools varies greatly, while it’s true that going to a top ranked culinary school does not guarantee a quality chef, you should always seek out the best school that you can attend.

Once at culinary school, you have to work very hard to master every skill imaginable in the kitchen. To truly set yourself apart, you should consider taking some business and hotel & restaurant management courses too. Great chefs with business skills have a better chance of landing the prime job, and maybe even making it to executive chef in a top restaurant.

While the overall job outlook for chefs is not bad, if you have your sights set on the top restaurants or those coveted executive chef positions you need to start early learning the art, craft, and business of being a top chef. Head over to your local culinary school and get more information on their culinary arts programs.