Chefs and Head Cooks

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Creative: 85
  • Purpose: 64
  • Supported: 62
  • Social: 62
  • Analytical: 55

What Chefs and Head Cooks Do

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

Work Environment

Chefs and head cooks work in restaurants, private households, and other establishments where food is served. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. The work can be hectic and fast paced. Most chefs and head cooks work full time.

How to Become a Chef or Head Cook

Most chefs and head cooks learn their skills through work experience. Others receive training at a community college, technical school, culinary arts school, or 4-year college. A small number learn through apprenticeship programs or in the Armed Forces.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Chefs and head cooks

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of chefs and head cooks is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Most job opportunities for chefs and head cooks are expected to be in food services, including restaurants. Job opportunities also will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at upscale restaurants, hotels, and casinos, where the pay is typically highest.

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    Growth & Trends

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    This occupation supported 115,400 jobs in 2012 and 127,500 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 10.5%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 5.3% in 2022 to 121,500 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 116,600, compared with an observed value of 127,500, 9.3% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 9.8% in 2024 to 138,800 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 122,700 jobs for 2024, 11.6% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.