Chef Opportunities for Advancement

Career Growth Opportunities for Chefs

Kitchen chefs work to prepare and serve food in restaurants and other places where food is served. They ensure that the taste and cleanliness standards of their kitchens are met. Chefs typically begin their career with a high-school diploma or vocational school training and then gain on-the-job experience. After working as a chef, one may wish to explore other careers in hospitality or related to food. Some examples are presented below.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Certificates or Education
Executive Chef $58,253 (2018)** 10% (chefs and head cooks) Culinary Arts Program or Apprenticeship
Dietician $59,410 Dieticians and Nutritionists (2017)* 15% (Dietician and Nutritionist) Bachelor's Degree
Sommelier $47,897 (2018)** 7% (Waiters and Waitresses) Wine Certification Program
Food Scientist $62,910 Agricultural and Food Scientists (2017)* 7% (Agricultural and Food Scientists) Bachelor's Degree

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **

Career Information

Executive Chef

Executive chefs makes many of the business-related decisions for a restaurant. They plan the menu and food selections, hire other workers for the kitchen, and order the foods and beverages that are to be served. During busy times executive chefs might cook, or they might train a sous chef to prepare foods to the standards they have designed. They are also responsible for the hygiene and safety standards of the kitchen. Executive chefs typically work full-time and enjoy bonuses and benefits in addition to a salary, as opposed to kitchen chefs who may be paid hourly. Most executive chefs have formal education, either through a culinary arts school or an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Some may have completed an apprenticeship, and previous experience working in a kitchen is very important.

Registered Dietician

Chefs have extensive experience working with designing nutritious menus, so furthering their career as a registered dietician might be a great step. Registered dieticians work to help individuals follow a specific diet that is recommended for health-based reasons. They might work in hospitals, or for other governmental agencies. A dietician must complete a bachelor's degree and an internship, pass a national exam, and become licensed by their state.


Chefs who wish to continue a specialized career in the restaurant world may wish to consider becoming a sommelier. Sommeliers use their extensive knowledge of wine to advise restaurants on which wines to purchase; they also help restaurant customers choose the best wine pairings for the food they have selected. They may also provide educational classes or tastings related to wine. Sommeliers typically work in high-end restaurants during the evening hours. There is no specific requirement for claiming the title of sommelier; however, most employers will wish to see formal training. Sommeliers can seek education through organizations such as the International Sommelier Guild, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, or the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Food Scientist

Food scientists have broad scientific knowledge in fields such as biology, chemistry, and engineering. They work to improve the safety and nutritional value of foods that are served, while looking at factors such as taste, texture, and convenience. These scientists may also use their knowledge of science to create new food products from the available resources. Food scientists might also work to educate the public about food safety and work for the government, in industrial plants, or for universities. Food scientists have a bachelor's degree at a minimum, but often earn graduate degrees, as well.

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