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Alternative Careers for Chefs

Chefs prepare menus and oversee the work of kitchen staff to offer high-quality meals to their customers. Learn about a few of the alternative careers that may take advantage of these skills, as well as each career's education requirements.

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Alternative Career Options for Chefs

Alternative career options for chefs include other positions in the food industry, management positions and more. These alternatives may draw upon a chef's skills with food preparation and recipe creation and/or their ability to lead and oversee other workers in a fast-paced environment. We discuss a handful of the available alternative career options for chefs below.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Bakers $25,090 7%
Food Service Managers $50,820 5%
Lodging Managers $51,840 8%
Bartenders $20,800 10%
Food Scientists and Technologists $63,950 3%
Postsecondary Culinary Arts Teachers $50,660 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
  • Institutional Food Worker
  • Meat Cutting

Career Information for Alternative Careers for Chefs

Bakers

Bakers may perform many of the same tasks as a chef in the kitchen as they check the quality of their ingredients and maintain their kitchen equipment, but they specialize in creating baked goods instead of whole meals. Bakers may create or follow a recipe to make breads, cakes or other pastries to sell. Many bakers use their creativity to decorate their products with various glazes and icings after the products have baked and cooled. Bakers usually learn on-the-job, but some may choose to attend culinary school or a program at a technical college, although no formal education is required.

Food Service Managers

Food service managers take a slightly broader role in managing the activities of an entire restaurant, instead of just the kitchen like a chef. This requires them to oversee a larger number of staff and handle the financial side of the business through budget reports and payrolls. They also respond to customer complaints or problems, create work schedules for the staff, hire employees and ensure that health and food safety regulations are met. Food service managers may have a high school diploma and work experience in the field, or they may pursue additional training at a postsecondary institution in hospitality management or a related field.

Lodging Managers

Lodging managers play an even broader management role as they oversee an entire establishment that offers accommodations to guests, which may include dining services. Like chefs, lodging managers must oversee their staff to ensure that daily activities are running smoothly, such as having clean rooms, good food and resolving any issues in the front-office. Lodging managers are also responsible for overseeing the hotel's budget, interviewing and training staff and ensuring guests are happy with their stay. Many lodging managers have an associate's or bachelor's degree in hotel management or operations, but some have a high school diploma and work experience.

Bartenders

Bartenders are related to chefs as they may follow recipes to mix drinks for customers. They may own their own business, which would require them to oversee staffing and inventory just as chefs do. They generally serve alcoholic beverages and interact with customers at the bar. Bartenders are responsible for checking the ID's of customers to make sure they are of legal drinking age, maintaining beverage supplies and handling payment for the drinks. Bartenders learn on-the-job and do not need formal education, but they must be 18 years of age and understand current laws surrounding alcoholic beverages.

Food Scientists and Technologists

A chef who is interested in studying food and applying their knowledge of food to making processed foods healthier and safer may enjoy a career as a food scientist or technologist. Food scientists and technologists look for new food sources, examine the nutrition of foods and develop new ways to detect contamination in foods. Some of these professionals may be involved in inspecting food processing facilities to ensure compliance with government regulations concerning safety and cleanliness. Food scientists and technologists may earn advanced degrees in the field, but need at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, biology, chemistry or another science.

Culinary Arts Teachers

A chef who would like to share their experience and expertise in the field with others may consider a position as a culinary arts teacher. These teachers create lessons and demonstrate their craft for their students to provide a unique hands-on learning experience for aspiring chefs and cooks. This may include demonstrating how to use certain kitchen equipment, checking the quality of ingredients and more, as well as grading assignments and assessments. Culinary arts teachers need to have relevant experience, as well as a bachelor's degree in their field and a license if they teach at a public school.

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