Professional Chef Career Overview
The day to day work of a professional chef involves planning the menu, deciding the recipes to follow, delegating tasks to the team, ensuring the food quality, and supervising the preparation process. Though becoming a professional chef entirely online may be difficult, there are some online programs and resources available. The below table lists the required skills and salary details for professional chefs.
|Required Skills||Menu planning, food preparation, people management, budget management, excellent communication|
|Job Growth*||11% for 2018-2028 (for all chefs and head cooks)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$48,460 per year (for all chefs and head cooks)|
Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Professional Chef Online
While some online degree or diploma programs are available, aspiring chefs will need some hands on training that cannot be done online. Those interested in preparing for certification can prepare for the exams on online, but they may be required to take the certification exam in person at a specific location.
Step 1. Earn an Associate Degree or Diploma Online
The initial step to become a professional chef online is to find an complete an associate degree or a diploma program. There are culinary arts and pastry arts programs available online that include training on the fundamentals of cooking and baking, food safety, food quality, fine dining, food production, cooking methods, and ingredient pairing. Some institutes offer these programs completely online, however other programs may require you to visit campus for some hands-on training.
Step 2. Join a Bachelor's Degree Program for Continuing Education
While not required to enter this career, aspiring chefs may choose to continue learning in a bachelor's degree program that can help them acquire and hone professional skills in culinary arts. These programs generally explore advanced culinary skills, such as different pastry making and baking techniques, beverage management, culinary management, meat fabrication, cost management, and artistic skills in pastry decorations.
Step 3. Gain Experience
Work experience is mandatory to become a professional chef even after getting the above mentioned culinary degrees. Many schools offer internships, externships, or apprentice programs to provide the working knowledge to the students. You could join a restaurant as an entry-level chef to work under qualified professional chefs where you learn about the day-to-day work in the kitchen while you build your culinary skills. Other options are to practice the cooking techniques at home by watching online videos on specific cooking techniques or cooking for your family and friends.
Step 4. Get Certified as a Professional Chef
The final step to get recognized as a professional chef is to earn certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF certification demonstrates your competence and skills, and it can lead to advancement and higher pay. There are 16 different levels of ACF certifications available, depending upon your education and work experience. ACF conducts a written test and a practical exam in specific locations to certify qualified chefs. You can study online for written examination through the ACF Online Learning Center and for the practical exam through the ACF video preparation course.