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Catering Chef: Employment Outlook & Education Summary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a catering chef. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A certificate or associate's degree in culinary arts is required to enter the field as a catering chef. Vocational training or completion of an internship can help candidates preparing to enter this field gain experience. Candidates must also complete any state licensing or certification requirements, and certification through the American Culinary Foundation is also recommended.

Essential Information

Catering chefs prepare meals based on customers' specific requests and oversee additional preparations, which might include delivering food and setting up for parties or banquets. The basic requirement for this career is a certificate or associate's degree in culinary arts, and depending on their state, catering chefs might need a health certificate. Catering chefs might seek voluntary certifications to enhance career prospects.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in culinary arts
Other Requirements Health certificate requirements vary by state; additional certifications through the American Culinary Federation might be beneficial
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for all chefs and head cooks)
Mean Salary (2015)* $41,500 (for chefs and head cooks)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that job opportunities for chefs and head cooks should be good for those with significant experience in the field (www.bls.gov). Employment of chefs and head cooks was projected to grow by nine percent between 2014 and 2024. An increase in both population and new dining establishments could contribute to employment growth. Individuals seeking work in upscale establishments were expected to face the stiffest competition.

Salary Information

Chefs and head cooks typically earn between $23,150 and $74,170 annually. Factors that affect income are the field of employment. Chefs and head cooks employed by the federal government earn average mean salaries of $66,290, while those employed by restaurants earn an average mean salary of $42,180.

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Educational Summary

Catering chefs make foods for clients based on the clients' requests. They also might oversee other staff members who help prepare and deliver the food and set up buffet tables. Because of the various types of foods available today, catering chefs should be skilled in preparing a variety of cuisines. Although they might receive on-the-job training and earn promotions through experience, most catering chefs have completed formal training in culinary arts.

Culinary arts programs, typically culminating in a certificate or associate's degree, can be found at community colleges, technical schools and culinary arts schools. Students generally attend lectures and receive hands-on training working in fully equipped kitchens. They also might participate in internships or externships at designated training sites. Courses might include sanitation and safety, lunch preparation, purchasing, nutrition and menu development, catering and food truck cuisine, vegetarian cuisine and a la carte kitchens.

Certification

Voluntary certification can demonstrate proficiency and knowledge in specific areas of culinary arts. Based on their training and experience, graduates can obtain certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) in various areas. Some examples of certifications offered through ACF include Certified Master Chef, Certified Executive Chef, Personal Certified Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator and Certified Master Pastry Chef. Many states require that catering chefs obtain a health certificate.

A 9% job growth rate is projected for catering chefs through 2024, which is faster than average. Candidates who complete a certificate or associate's degree in culinary arts will be able to compete for positions in this field, and may also benefit from completing internships to develop on-the-job experience. Completion of additional certifications may be required by the state.

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