Salary Range for Chefs

Salary Range for Chefs

Apr 5, 2015 | 10:00 am

What is the salary range for a chef in today’s ultra competitive environment? To some extent, it depends who you ask. If you were to ask a world famous chef, someone who does cable TV and writes books, he or she would tell you that you can earn a fortune in the culinary field. Ask the man working at IHOP or Wendy’s, and you would get a very different answer. This illustrates one very important point: where do you see yourself going in this career path?

The Salary Range for a Chef

According to some sources in the industry , including, most chefs make between $25,000 and $65,000. Cooking assistants naturally start small, perhaps only reaching $25,000 per year in a big city. However, by the time you gain the experience necessary to apply as an executive chef, you can easily command a salary of $65,000. That said, not every executive chef will make the same salary, especially if the applicant lacks managerial and fast-paced kitchen experience. This is why it is essential to gain experience working as a line cook or sous chef early on.

The salary range for a chef can reach higher when you venture outside of restaurant jobs, and into avenues like food science, ($65,214). Ultimately, management and owning your own restaurant would be the most profitable path to take. Before you can do this, you would have to find connections in the business and learn the local market. Some chefs go out and find new markets altogether, or work in a city they have always loved. Your career options are open and your final salary is determined by where your talents are going to be the most needed.

Other Factors to Consider

The salary range for a chef is also decided upon by factors such as work environment and the type of business that signs your checks. Fine dining restaurants, theme parks, five-star hotels and resorts, are usually avenues of the field that pay their chefs very well.

The question is, does a degree matter in today’s market? Yes, because formal training is always a resume extra that will get you noticed. However, as an article in US News and World Report recently stated, veteran cooks remind younger students to get a cooking gig first—before they go to school.

One industry veteran actually was quoted in saying, “If you walk into a kitchen and say, ‘I want to spend six months here as a prep cook. I want to work hard and learn,’ those of us in the business are grateful.” This should emphasize the point that work experience is just as valuable as a culinary degree. However, trying to make it without formal education may be a risk in today’s competitive market.

For the best results, work as a line cook or sous chef, or even an assistant chef or prep cook. You will gain practical experience in a “live” atmosphere and will bring that experience to your next job. The path is wide open for talented cooks to shine.