What kind of career and salary can I expect in the culinary field?

There are several career choices to choose from when entering the field of culinary arts. Jobs within the food industry can range from a Food and Beverage Server to the Executive Chef or Food Service Manager. Generally, culinary personnel are expected to start at the bottom and work their way up through hard work, a postsecondary education and certifications. Below are a few career goals to consider.

The Food Prep Worker’s responsibilities include peeling, cutting or chopping vegetables and the like. They perform many other routine tasks such as preparing drinks or brewing coffee. This is an entry-level position that does not require any formal education, however, it is very good experience and provides room for advancement, with a job well done. Food Prep Workers earn between $22,920 to $31,040 annually, depending on location and type of establishment.

A Sous Chef ranks just below an Executive or Head Chef. They assist the Head Chef and make sure that food is prepared correctly, as well as, overseeing that all food safety regulations are met. When the Head Chef is not present, the Sous Chef must know how to prepare all dishes and know how to plate the food in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the customer. They often are responsible for placing food and beverage orders and the scheduling of kitchen personnel. They help develop new recipes and plan menus. Most Sous Chefs are not formerly trained, however, an online Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts would be most helpful to advance in your career. The salary of a Sous Chef is approximately $45,920 annually.

The Executive or Head Chef’s salary can vary greatly between $54,414 to $77,322 annually, with an average of $63,874 per year. The Executive Chef is in charge of a kitchen’s daily operations and the kitchen staff. They typically hold an associates or bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts. Most employers will require certification, an apprenticeship and as much as eight years of previous work experience. If you are truly serious about your career as a Head Chef, you may want to consider earning multiple certifications to show that you can handle many responsibilities in the kitchen. Head Chefs work for restaurants or private individuals to prepare exceptional meals, as well as, oversee or delegate work to Sous Chefs or other kitchen personnel. Business related duties include maintaining safety and sanitation regulations within the kitchen, preparing menus, in addition to, accounting tasks and training new personnel.

Depending on the venue, some establishments may require a Food Service Manager. They oversee the daily operations of restaurants, cafés, fast food restaurants or cafeterias, however, a large part of their job is to ensure customer satisfaction. Educational requirements typically include an associate or an online Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts degree and certification. A management position usually requires at least one to eight years of food service experience. A Food Service Manager’s salary can vary greatly depending on experience and type of establishment, however, the average salary ranges from between $50,820 to $87,210 per year.

If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our list of the America’s Top Online Culinary Schools to help you begin an exciting career in the food industry. Bon appétit!