Chefs and Head Cooks: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

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.

  • 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.
  • Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
  • Instruct cooks or other workers in the preparation, cooking, garnishing, or presentation of food.
Read more about what does a Chef and Head Cook really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$52160 per year

Average hourly wage
$25 per hour

Chefs and Head Cooks with little to no experience tend to make between $26320 and $35570 while the more experienced ones can earn over $64500 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
HI $36 $74,510
NJ $34 $70,260
DC $32 $65,780
DE $29 $59,330
CT $28 $58,830

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Chef and Head Cook is to move to a higher paying state like HI. Right now, the highest paying states for Chefs and Head Cooks are HI, NJ, DC, DE and CT.

However, a higher pay at HI doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at HI might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Chef and Head Cook is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Associate’s degree

We asked other Chefs and Head Cooks what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had an Associate’s Degree followed by a Post-Secondary Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General
Baking and Pastry Arts/Baker/Pastry Chef
Culinary Arts/Chef Training
Restaurant, Culinary, and Catering Management/Manager
Culinary Science/Culinology
Read more about how to become a Chef and Head Cook and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Chef and Head Cook.

Suitable for people who likes to start and carry out projects
Suitable for people who wants independence and likes to work on their own and make decisions
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Not suitable for people who likes to solve problems mentally
Salary is below average
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

65% of Chefs and Head Cooks said they were satisfied with their job and 49% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Chef Van Hurd
Citizen Chicken & Donuts

Devan Cameron

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Entrepreneurs and The Builders

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business..

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Learn more about Chefs and Head Cooks

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Related career information

Chefs and Head Cooks job description, Chefs and Head Cooks salary, Chefs and Head Cooks information, what is the job of a Chef and Head Cook like, pros and cons about Chefs and Head Cooks, colleges and universities for Chefs and Head Cooks, is Chefs and Head Cooks the right career for me, careers in Food and Hospitality

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Banquet Chef, Bread and Pastry Baker, Cake Froster, Cake Icer, Cake Maker, Cake Mixer, Certified Executive Chef (CEC), Chef, Chef de Cuisine, Chef de Froid

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