Experience and talent are going to be the hottest ingredients on a chef's menu in the coming years. The chef's world has always been competitive, but now it's going to be even more so. Whether you're the head chef at a fancy restaurant competing with other businesses or you're working at a casual eatery and competing with lower-level chefs for your job, the future for a chef isn't going to be a piece of a cake.
A chef's job involves both cooking food and overseeing the work of lower-level cooks and other food preparation staff. Chefs create new recipes and develop distinctive ways present meals to customers. They also plan menus for restaurants, with their degree of autonomy depending on the type of place they work. They also inspect equipment and make sure the staff is following safety and sanitation standards. However, a chef's hours are long and require working at a fast pace, so there tends to be a high turnover rate in the job.
The job growth rate for chefs is expected to be negative, decreasing by 1 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 100,600 chefs and head cooks were employed in 2010. However, that number is expected to decline by 2020 to 99,800. This is in sharp contrast to the bureau's prediction of an overall job growth rate of 14 percent in the United States by 2020.
Reason for Decline
Restaurants can expect greater demand because of an increase in income and population, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this won't be enough to create job growth for chefs. The bureau predicts that many restaurants will need to lower costs and will turn to lower-level cooks, who are paid less, instead of chefs.
Overcoming the Decline
The best job opportunities for chefs in the future will come from more upscale restaurants, hotels and casinos. However, because these jobs pay more, competition for them will be fierce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chefs who want to be competitive against other job applicants should focus on work experience, gaining a reputation for creativity and developing business skills.