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The term chef is most commonly used to refer to an individual who has received specialized culinary arts training, and who typically works in mid-tier to fine dining eating establishments with table service and where food is "cooked to order". Training, especially for chefs employed in high-end restaurants, can be quite extensive in comparison to the on-the-job training of most cooks.

Chefs picture    Chefs image

Culinary and Cooking Schools

Shorter term culinary arts programs may be found at technical education schools, as well as culinary and cooking schools. Completion of these programs helps culinary professionals obtain entry-level positions in the field where they can work their way up to becoming a chef. Here are a list of 3 culinary and cooking schools that confer certificates, diplomas and associate degrees. All are accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

  • Bishop State Community College: This community college in Mobile, Alabama offers an associate degree in commercial food service.
  • Cascade Culinary Institute: This culinary institute in Bend, Oregon offers a specialized associate degree in baking and pastry.
  • Paul Smith's College: Located in the Adirondacks of New York, this college offers students an associate degree in the culinary arts.

Chef Schools

Chefs, especially those who intend to work in table-service restaurants and fine dining establishments, can in some cases work their way up to the role with an associate degree and several years of work experience under their belt. Alternatively, many choose to attend four-year culinary programs that lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The following three schools offer a bachelor's in the culinary arts and are accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

  • The Art Institute of California-Sacramento: This campus of Argosy University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary management.
  • The International Culinary School: Located in Texas within the Art Institute of Houston, this school offers a Bachelor of Science in food and beverage management.
  • Johnson and Wales University: Culinary arts students at this university are given the opportunity to perform internships at university-owned or affiliated hotels and restaurants. The school offers a bachelor's degree in culinary nutrition.

Culinary Education Requirements

Chef training schools prepare you to meet the relevant culinary education requirements. You'll develop your expertise in the kitchen as well as the classroom, learning culinary techniques and restaurant management skills.

Most culinary programs require a high school degree and some selective culinary institutes prefer candidates with some industry experience. The curriculum covers general academic knowledge, applied cooking skills, and culinary business fundamentals. Courses cover:

  • Recipe and menu planning
  • Food preparation and cooking techniques
  • Regional cuisines
  • Supervising and training kitchen assistants
  • Kitchen management, including resource and supplies planning
  • Food presentation
  • Sanitation and food safety regulations
  • Culinary business skills (accounting, marketing, budgeting and finance, etc.)

In addition, chef training programs may provide instruction in nutrition, purchasing and inventory software, and specialized chef techniques. Specialized elective courses include wine and sommelier training, pastry chef training, bread baking, sous vide cooking, flavor dynamics, buffet presentation, and more.

Culinary Certification and Training

Though certification is not required, it can help demonstrate proficiency in the field. The International Association of Culinary Professionals also offers the Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) credential. In addition, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) offers the following certifications:

  • ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification
  • Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) Certification

Most culinary arts programs include a significant amount of hands-on training. Internships/externships, or working in school run restaurants is also frequently part of culinary arts programs. The American Culinary Federation also operates apprenticeship programs lasting two or three years that combine on-the-job training with technical classroom instruction.

Working side by side with an established chef, you'll have the opportunity to apply your formal training in practice. The mentorship and professional contacts you gain from this apprenticeship can have a major impact on your career prospects. As you review chef training schools, take into account their networking and apprenticeship programs.

Chef Certifications and Training

Chefs in training can expect to spend substantial amounts of their training in a lab kitchens gaining valuable hands-on expertise. While food services establishments must obtain and maintain many different types of licenses such as department of health licensing and certification, it is not necessary for chefs to be licensed. Many may have to attend sanitation and safe food handling courses designated by the department of health as a requirement for a restaurant's licensing, however.

Certification can, hoewver, add an important credential for those individuals trying to obtain top-tier jobs where the competition can be very keen. The American Culinary Federation offers the following certification credentials for chefs:

  • Certified Culinarian (CC)
  • Certified Sous Chef (CSC)
  • Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC)
  • Certified Executive Chef (CEC)
  • Certified Master Chef (CMC)
  • Personal Certified Chef (PCC)
  • Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC)

Resources for Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Sources:

  1. American Culinary Federation, http://www.acfchefs.org/ACFSource/Education/Postsecondary.aspx
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chefs and Head Cooks, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-and-head-cooks.htm
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Cooks, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/cooks.htm
  4. Johnson and Wales, https://academics.jwu.edu/college-of-culinary-arts/

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Chefs and Culinary Professionals jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 170 $50,870
Birmingham 170 $50,870
Huntsville 100 $41,120
Montgomery 90 $54,590
Mobile 40 $40,250
Daphne 40 $47,780
Fairhope 40 $47,780
Foley 40 $47,780
Tuscaloosa 30 $56,960
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage N/A $30,410
Fairbanks N/A $52,890
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 3110 $33,890
Phoenix 3110 $33,890
Mesa 3110 $33,890
Tucson 400 $33,820
Flagstaff 120 $42,940
Prescott 60 $36,460
Yuma N/A $20,270
Lake Havasu City N/A $28,480
Kingman N/A $28,480
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 250 $36,960
North Little Rock 250 $36,960
Little Rock 250 $36,960
Jonesboro N/A $28,800
Hot Springs N/A $30,170
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 6750 $45,570
Long Beach 6750 $45,570
Los Angeles 6750 $45,570
Oakland 3480 $47,340
Hayward 3480 $47,340
San Francisco 3480 $47,340
Carlsbad 1630 $41,370
San Diego 1630 $41,370
San Bernardino 1440 $45,610
Riverside 1440 $45,610
Ontario 1440 $45,610
San Jose 1020 $56,360
Santa Clara 1020 $56,360
Sunnyvale 1020 $56,360
Arden 960 $52,930
Sacramento 960 $52,930
Roseville 960 $52,930
Arcade 960 $52,930
Napa 310 $49,900
Santa Rosa 290 $49,650
Salinas 260 $50,610
Thousand Oaks 240 $47,110
Oxnard 240 $47,110
Ventura 240 $47,110
Fresno 230 $38,230
San Luis Obispo 200 $37,160
Paso Robles 200 $37,160
Arroyo Grande 200 $37,160
Santa Barbara 180 $51,870
Santa Maria 180 $51,870
Santa Cruz 170 $39,530
Watsonville 170 $39,530
Lodi 100 $47,030
Stockton 100 $47,030
Porterville 90 $51,050
Visalia 90 $51,050
Corcoran 40 N/A
Hanford 40 N/A
Chico 40 $39,430
Merced 30 $49,900
Bakersfield N/A $27,760
Redding N/A $32,510
Vallejo N/A $33,510
Fairfield N/A $33,510
Modesto N/A $43,200
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 1530 $44,160
Denver 1530 $44,160
Aurora 1530 $44,160
Boulder 150 $43,530
Fort Collins 60 $42,330
Grand Junction 30 $45,260
Colorado Springs N/A $56,320
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 930 $48,390
West Hartford 930 $48,390
Hartford 930 $48,390
Stamford 630 $39,750
Norwalk 630 $39,750
Bridgeport 630 $39,750
Danbury 270 $39,100
New Haven 180 $47,580
Waterbury 60 $36,830
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 50 $42,880
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 2630 $53,000
Fort Lauderdale 2630 $53,000
Miami 2630 $53,000
Orlando 1450 $56,070
Kissimmee 1450 $56,070
Sanford 1450 $56,070
Clearwater 990 $41,420
Tampa 990 $41,420
St. Petersburg 990 $41,420
Sarasota 530 N/A
North Port 530 N/A
Bradenton 530 N/A
Jacksonville 490 $47,390
Immokalee 380 $57,550
Naples 380 $57,550
Marco Island 380 $57,550
Cape Coral 370 $52,680
Fort Myers 370 $52,680
Crestview 150 $52,110
Destin 150 $52,110
Fort Walton Beach 150 $52,110
Titusville 140 $47,710
Palm Bay 140 $47,710
Melbourne 140 $47,710
Lakeland 140 $48,180
Winter Haven 140 $48,180
Ormond Beach 100 $54,040
Daytona Beach 100 $54,040
Deltona 100 $54,040
Port St. Lucie 100 $54,830
The Villages 90 $60,010
Sebastian 70 $53,810
Vero Beach 70 $53,810
Ferry Pass 60 $37,370
Pensacola 60 $37,370
Brent 60 $37,370
Tallahassee 50 $42,600
Gainesville 40 $41,410
Ocala 30 $49,130
Punta Gorda 30 $53,530
Panama City N/A $56,570
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 2870 $33,330
Atlanta 2870 $33,330
Roswell 2870 $33,330
Savannah 220 $30,530
Athens 180 $24,020
Clarke County 180 $24,020
Brunswick 60 $44,220
Macon 40 $33,780
Warner Robins N/A $28,820
Gainesville N/A $29,640
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 1020 $44,230
Lahaina 260 $61,820
Wailuku 260 $61,820
Kahului 260 $61,820
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 350 $30,280
Coeur d'Alene N/A $35,040
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford 160 $38,850
Peoria 130 $36,480
Springfield 80 $25,220
Urbana 80 $54,300
Champaign 80 $54,300
Bloomington 50 $43,760
Kankakee N/A $35,940
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 900 $37,910
Anderson 900 $37,910
Carmel 900 $37,910
Fort Wayne 150 $34,660
Bloomington 40 $37,080
Terre Haute 40 $69,990
Elkhart N/A $41,410
Goshen N/A $41,410
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 240 $31,480
Des Moines 240 $31,480
Iowa City 170 $38,030
Dubuque 120 $31,330
Cedar Rapids 90 $30,180
Ames 50 $46,890
Cedar Falls 40 $38,620
Waterloo 40 $38,620
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 250 $28,600
Topeka 140 $37,960
Lawrence 90 $38,000
Manhattan 30 $23,450
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 180 $50,180
Fayette 180 $50,180
Owensboro 50 $42,080
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 800 $32,920
Metairie 800 $32,920
Baton Rouge 190 $44,410
Lake Charles 150 $34,890
Bossier City 150 $38,140
Shreveport 150 $38,140
Houma 130 $34,250
Thibodaux 130 $34,250
Monroe 60 $26,900
Alexandria 40 $72,370
Lafayette N/A $24,070
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 280 $42,990
Portland 280 $42,990
Auburn 40 $36,910
Lewiston 40 $36,910
Bangor 40 $37,610
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1300 $40,020
Columbia 1300 $40,020
Baltimore 1300 $40,020
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 130 $51,840
Pittsfield 80 $50,360
Leominster 50 $40,390
Gardner 50 $40,390
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 1370 $43,710
Dearborn 1370 $43,710
Warren 1370 $43,710
Grand Rapids 300 $37,230
Wyoming 300 $37,230
Lansing 240 $43,310
East Lansing 240 $43,310
Ann Arbor 150 $46,220
Portage 60 $35,210
Kalamazoo 60 $35,210
Benton Harbor 50 $52,070
Niles 50 $52,070
Saginaw N/A $43,180
Battle Creek N/A $48,970
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 90 $35,260
St. Cloud 40 $46,150
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 190 $43,700
Biloxi 190 $43,700
Gulfport 190 $43,700
Jackson 190 $53,070
Hattiesburg N/A $44,800
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Joplin 80 $23,760
Columbia 80 $46,390
Springfield N/A $51,000
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Missoula 110 $30,840
Billings 70 $36,820
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 80 $48,400
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 2850 $49,750
Henderson 2850 $49,750
Las Vegas 2850 $49,750
Reno 450 $42,240
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 100 $44,720
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Atlantic City 310 $56,530
Hammonton 310 $56,530
Trenton 210 $46,720
Ocean City 90 $53,160
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 150 $30,040
Santa Fe 110 $51,420
Farmington 50 $42,190
Las Cruces N/A $40,860
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albany 690 $49,510
Troy 690 $49,510
Schenectady 690 $49,510
Rochester 600 $35,600
Cheektowaga 520 $36,180
Niagara Falls 520 $36,180
Buffalo 520 $36,180
Syracuse 250 $38,210
Kingston 140 $55,500
Watertown 120 $37,230
Fort Drum 120 $37,230
Glens Falls 110 $43,170
Ithaca 100 $44,620
Elmira 40 $41,060
Rome N/A $24,940
Utica N/A $24,940
Binghamton N/A $41,850
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 270 $47,940
Chapel Hill 200 $44,270
Durham 200 $44,270
High Point 170 $43,240
Greensboro 170 $43,240
Asheville 160 $42,700
Winston 90 $44,910
Salem 90 $44,910
Hickory 50 $37,130
Morganton 50 $37,130
Lenoir 50 $37,130
Wilmington 50 $65,370
Fayetteville 40 $40,600
New Bern N/A $47,410
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck N/A $52,830
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 1120 $36,000
Cleveland 1120 $36,000
Columbus 960 $38,370
Toledo 260 $38,390
Dayton 200 $41,620
Akron 180 $39,920
Springfield 50 $33,700
Mansfield 40 $22,520
Lima N/A $36,110
Canton N/A $41,250
Massillon N/A $41,250
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 400 $35,210
Oklahoma City 300 $42,810
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Redmond 100 $42,610
Bend 100 $42,610
Medford 90 $39,100
Eugene 80 $40,600
Salem 80 $42,970
Corvallis 30 $42,270
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 750 $42,950
Lancaster 220 $45,830
Harrisburg 140 $42,440
Carlisle 140 $42,440
Hazleton 110 $48,680
Wilkes 110 $48,680
Barre 110 $48,680
Scranton 110 $48,680
Gettysburg 80 $31,600
Hanover 80 $44,420
York 80 $44,420
Erie 70 $43,060
Reading 70 $45,190
State College 40 $35,870
East Stroudsburg 40 $48,600
Bloomsburg 30 $55,340
Berwick 30 $55,340
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 450 $29,800
Carolina 450 $29,800
San Juan 450 $29,800
Arecibo N/A $22,680
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 1190 $25,310
North Charleston 1190 $25,310
Greenville 740 $36,350
Mauldin 740 $36,350
Anderson 740 $36,350
Columbia 560 $24,350
Spartanburg 210 $23,190
Beaufort 120 $44,170
Hilton Head Island 120 $44,170
Bluffton 120 $44,170
Florence N/A $19,510
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 730 $42,060
Franklin 730 $42,060
Davidson 730 $42,060
Nashville 730 $42,060
Knoxville 670 $24,650
Jackson 40 $28,790
Cleveland N/A $23,550
Morristown N/A $23,690
Johnson City N/A $34,120
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sugar Land 2540 $41,760
The Woodlands 2540 $41,760
Houston 2540 $41,760
Arlington 2370 $50,580
Dallas 2370 $50,580
Fort Worth 2370 $50,580
Austin 950 $38,290
Round Rock 950 $38,290
New Braunfels 690 $47,120
San Antonio 690 $47,120
El Paso 110 $42,610
Port Arthur 110 $73,260
Beaumont 110 $73,260
Bryan 100 $36,030
College Station 100 $36,030
McAllen 80 $44,770
Mission 80 $44,770
Edinburg 80 $44,770
Lubbock 80 $61,610
Corpus Christi 60 $30,720
San Angelo 40 $25,150
Brownsville N/A $19,750
Harlingen N/A $19,750
Abilene N/A $21,680
Waco N/A $22,840
Denison N/A $23,390
Sherman N/A $23,390
Amarillo N/A $30,540
Killeen N/A $37,910
Temple N/A $37,910
Victoria N/A $48,800
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 480 $41,470
Clearfield 150 $30,740
Ogden 150 $30,740
Orem 70 $54,440
Provo 70 $54,440
St. George 50 $51,420
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 100 $53,780
Burlington 100 $53,780
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 450 $52,820
Roanoke 100 $36,840
Charlottesville 100 $44,430
Lynchburg 90 $36,040
Harrisonburg 60 $33,310
Waynesboro 50 $35,880
Staunton 50 $35,880
Blacksburg N/A $25,090
Christiansburg N/A $25,090
Radford N/A $25,090
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 1290 $49,790
Bellevue 1290 $49,790
Tacoma 1290 $49,790
Spokane Valley 140 $40,080
Spokane 140 $40,080
Bremerton 100 N/A
Silverdale 100 N/A
Anacortes 60 $42,410
Mount Vernon 60 $42,410
Bellingham 50 $44,520
Yakima 40 $37,790
Wenatchee 30 $39,340
Tumwater N/A $30,270
Olympia N/A $30,270
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Morgantown 50 $64,700
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 600 $45,020
Waukesha 600 $45,020
Milwaukee 600 $45,020
Madison 290 $40,930
Appleton 100 $29,290
Green Bay 80 $50,150
Sheboygan 50 $38,970
Eau Claire 40 $38,940
Racine N/A $33,850

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Chefs and Culinary Professionals

To find out more about building a career as Chefs, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

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Most Popular Industries for :
Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Restaurant 68,060 69% $36,570
Hotel And Accomodation 12,100 12% $44,380
Amusement Gambling And Recreation 7,240 7% $45,020
Government 2,970 3% $54,990
Education 1,250 1% $36,340
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  • Art of Cooking (D)
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  • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
  • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
  • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Chefs and Culinary Professionals.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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