Salary Information for Chefs

Salary Information for Chefs

Apr 4, 2015 | 12:00 pm

Interested in cooking for a living? Talk about a dream job! There is nothing quite like being paid for doing something that comes naturally to you. That begs the question though, what is the salary of a chef?

A tough question, considering there are thousands upon thousands of jobs, and ultimately the employer decides what you are worth to the market. Having cook talent will bring you opportunity. However, excelling and making a name for yourself in the business may require more professional schooling.

What is the Salary of a Chef on Average?

Sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012) reports that on average most cooks made approximately $42,480 per year. The top four industries for chefs and head cooks were traveler accommodation, amusement parks, special food services, and restaurants. Chefs and head cooks certainly have the potential to earn a lot of money—well beyond $100,000, if you consider success stories like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Of course, most chefs work thanklessly, not marketing themselves into a worldwide figurehead.

This means two things. One, you must progressively move ahead in your career. After training, it’s time to gain the experience needed to move further towards the goal of head or executive chef. You may work as a sous chef or a line cook before you reach leadership potential.

The Work Experience Factor

According to a US News and World Report story, starting salary for a line cook could be as low as $13.07 per hour. At the opposite end of the spectrum, fine dining executive chefs made $78,348. Hotel executive chefs made $86,066. The article speculates “longevity is the key,” as many of the top paid cooks spend literally decades in the industry.

This is why many veterans advise younger students to gain work experience before or during culinary training. College training is essential for success. However, one mistake students do make is that they get into debt early on, paying for college, without actually starting their career. Find a job early. Volunteer or accept low paying cooking jobs locally.

You may not see the reasoning now, but by the time you finish your degree, you will have gained 2-4 years of experience in a real world atmosphere, cooking for clients and working with other staff. This will give you the edge to reach out for a managerial position.

One More Tip

Remember that even if you lack formal education, or decide to stop at an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree rather than going for a master’s, you don’t have to stop learning. There are short cooking classes to take, as well as courses in pastry making, sauces, charcuterie, desserts, and the options go on and on. You never start learning and you take all of your experience to your next job, showing them what an asset you are in terms of knowledge and experience.

Why not start looking for an accredited school today to start learning the business side of cooking, as well as the sciences that can help you improve your craft? This is the beginning of an exciting career doing what you truly love!