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What Is the Salary of a Chef?

Career News December 29, 2014

A career as a chef is a challenging endeavor. There is so much competition in the culinary field that rising to the top takes years of hard work, dedication, and knowledge. Successful chefs have to master proper technique, flavor profiles, and innovative use of ingredients.

Even after a chef has gained all the experience and knowledge he or she can, there are still more factors at work in determining the amount of salary for a chef as well as how successful he or she will be.

The average salary for an Executive Chef is $51,000. However, there are many steps involved and a long road to travel in order for a new chef to reach the level of Executive Chef.

Culinary School or Working Up the Ladder

For some, becoming a chef means paying for culinary school in order to get training and a subsequent culinary arts degree. This is an expensive option, but it teaches chefs invaluable skills that may be just enough of an edge to put them above the pack.

Most chefs take the harder, more common path of simply working their way up from the bottom. Restaurants, hotels, and other food service employers give future chefs the opportunity to start as a busser or dishwasher and work up the ladder to becoming a Sous Chef of Executive Chef.

Hard Work and Dedication

Either choice takes a significant amount of time and an incredible amount of hard work. However, the salary for a chef is generally directly tied in with the level of experience and dedication that a chef puts forth on a daily basis. Those that work harder, longer hours will be rewarded eventually with a better salary and job title. If salary alone is the main reason someone is thinking of becoming a chef, they may need to think again. Executive Chefs make decent money, but lower-titled chefs are not getting rich by any means. Becoming a chef should be a decision made because cooking is a passion, and like all passionate pursuits, dedication to the craft is necessary to succeed. Chefs with just a minimal interest in culinary arts will never succeed enough to enjoy a rewarding salary as a chef.

Beginning Salary

Entry-level chefs with a culinary arts degree or with minimal experience in the field do not make a lot of money for the number of hours they are asked to work. The website Indeed.com lists the average salaries for different chef positions, and there is a significant difference between a pastry cook at $28,000 per year and an Executive Chef/Sous Chef at $49,000 per year.

Before committing to a career as a chef, be sure to take the time to do a little research and fully understand what is needed to succeed in the culinary arts. Long hours, hard work, and a fierce perseverance to succeed are all required. However, if none of that sounds daunting and cooking is a passion, become a chef. Successful chefs enjoy rewarding, creative careers and can look forward to a lifetime of satisfying customers and creating innovative dishes sure to please.

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