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Salary Information for Professional Chefs

Career News November 23, 2014

Thinking of pursuing a career as a professional chef? Can’t wait to jump in the kitchen and begin creating culinary masterpieces? Good. Sounds like a career as a professional chef is a perfect choice. Chefs are always in demand, especially skilled professionals with experience and talent.

In the culinary world, professional chefs are integral components to the creation and execution of every tasty plate of food ever ordered in a five-star restaurant or even at the local fast food joint. Of course, a professional chef’s salary varies as much as the job titles and specialties available for a career-minded chef.

It’s a Numbers Game for Chefs on the Move

According to, the average professional chef salary is $45,000. However, depending on job title, location, experience, and other relevant factors, professional chef salaries can vary greatly. SimplyHired calculated average salaries for all jobs considered “professional chef” positions. On the low end of the salary ladder was the job title of culinary apprentice. These chefs are only paid around $12,000 per year and have quite a ways to go to get to the top of the salary ladder, as an Executive Chef making roughly $47,000 per year. In the middle of the pack are job titles like Sous Chef at $30,000 per year and Restaurant Chef at $38,000 per year.

Job Outlook for Professional Chefs and Good News

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for professional chefs is expected to grow by 5% through the year 2022. Strong competition is always a challenging aspect of pursuing a career in the culinary field, and professional chefs are no different.

However, people must eat, and there will forever be a need for good, competent chefs. Chefs just have to remember that in order to get the best salary possible as a professional chef, a strong work ethic and fierce drive are a must.

Work Environment

Chefs’ hours are brutal. There’s no way around it. Early mornings, late nights, and everything in between are all normal in the workweek of a professional chef. Hours of preparation each day are just the start of the average 10- to 12-hour day most chefs endure. With that said, becoming a professional chef is not for the lazy or faint of heart. Professional chefs have to be driven and dedicated in order to succeed.

How to Make More Money as a Chef and Earn It

Work, work, work, and then work some more in order to gain experience, knowledge, and proper technique. Once a chef has mastered all three, the money will follow. Of course, a culinary education helps as well, but not all chefs want to spend the money to attend a reputable culinary institute; some prefer to spend the time gaining invaluable on-the-job experience.

No matter what path a chef chooses to take on the road to furthering their career, every step taken is beneficial and will inevitably lead to a higher professional chef salary.

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