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Career Profile: Chefs and Head Cooks

Direct and may participate in the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 110,700 people employed as chefs and head cooks in the United States. The median annual salary is $53,400. Entry level employees earn approximately $30,300 per year and senior employees earn approximately $90,790 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Monitor sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.
  • Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
  • Analyze recipes to assign prices to menu items, based on food, labor, and overhead costs.
  • Instruct cooks or other workers in the preparation, cooking, garnishing, or presentation of food.
  • Prepare and cook foods of all types, either on a regular basis or for special guests or functions.
  • Recruit and hire staff, such as cooks and other kitchen workers.
  • Determine production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
  • Check the quantity and quality of received products.
  • Supervise or coordinate activities of cooks or workers engaged in food preparation.
  • Determine how food should be presented and create decorative food displays.
  • Order or requisition food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
  • Coordinate planning, budgeting, or purchasing for all the food operations within establishments such as clubs, hotels, or restaurant chains.
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, or work areas to ensure conformance to established standards.
  • Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
  • Record production or operational data on specified forms.
  • Plan, direct, or supervise food preparation or cooking activities of multiple kitchens or restaurants in an establishment such as a restaurant chain, hospital, or hotel.
  • Arrange for equipment purchases or repairs.
  • Collaborate with other personnel to plan and develop recipes or menus, taking into account such factors as seasonal availability of ingredients or the likely number of customers.
  • Demonstrate new cooking techniques or equipment to staff.
  • Meet with customers to discuss menus for special occasions, such as weddings, parties, or banquets.
  • Meet with sales representatives to negotiate prices or order supplies.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
110,700
Annual Openings:
18,800
Increase in Openings by 2030:
25%
Annual Salary Range:
$30,300 - $90,790
Education Requirements:
High school diploma