Jobs for Ex-Military Chefs

Military chefs, or food service specialists, are responsible for preparing and serving nutritious and delicious food that helps keep our troops healthy and ready for action. Ex-military chefs have extensive experience that helps them transition to civilian careers that include cooking, baking or managing food service. We will discuss these jobs in detail.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Bakers $25,690 8% Detail Oriented, Math Skills
Food Service Managers $52,030 9% Business Skills, Organizational Skills
Food Preparation Workers $22,730 8% Dexterity, Physical Stamina
Chefs and Head Cooks $45,950 10% Time Management Skills, Creativity
Cooks $23,970 6% Keen Sense of Taste and Smell, Comprehension of sanitation procedures

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

Jobs for Ex-Military Chefs

In 2018, Today's Military reported that over 1 million meals are cooked in military kitchens every day. Military chefs have hands-on experience with a large volume and variety of foods based on a pre-determined schedule and menu. Military cooking experience may be beneficial in acquiring a civilian cooking job. Below, learn more about the jobs listed in the table through the descriptions.


Bakers are cooks who specialize in cooking baked foods such as bread, biscuits, pies, and cakes. Military service members who served as chefs have experience baking foods for the troops.

The two main types of civilian bakers are: commercial bakers who bake foods for manufacturing facilities and retail bakers who cook for bakeries, grocery stores, or their private bakeries. While most entry-level bakers train on the job for 1 to 3 years, some may choose to attend a culinary school. Ex-military service members may not need the extensive training because they have foundational skills and knowledge in nutrition, basic baking, and sanitation rules.

Food Service Managers

Food service managers oversee the day-to-day operations involved with serving food for a dining facility. Ex-military chefs have experience in supervising each stage of food service while adhering to time schedules and recipes set by the military.

In addition to food preparation, food service managers supervise employees, order ingredients, manage budgets, and enforce food safety policies. Most food service managers have previously worked as cooks and servers. A high school diploma may be sufficient, though some restaurant chains, upscale restaurants, and hotels may require a bachelor's degree. Military experience or a Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certificate gives the candidate an advantage over other applicants.

Food Preparation Workers

Food preparation workers perform daily tasks such as cutting, slicing, and dicing ingredients that will be used by the chefs. Ex-military chefs have experience preparing large amounts of ingredients that serving the troops require.

A typical day for the food preparation worker involves slicing and dicing vegetables and fruits, cutting meats, and measuring liquids used in recipes. They retrieve, clean, and store pots, pans, slicers, grinders, and blenders. Although food preparation workers do not need a high school diploma or prior work experience, chances of getting hired are higher than average for ex-military workers because they typically have extensive work experience in addition to a high school diploma.

Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks supervise all food preparation and cooking tasks. The military chef has experience in cooking recipes predetermined by the military in garrison and field operations.

Each day, chefs and head cooks prepare recipes that are on the establishment's menu. They may create new recipes and determine how the dish is presented. They are in charge of supervising kitchen staff. Chefs and head cooks may train on the job for years and may start out as line cooks. Ex-military chefs often have the necessary basic training but may still need to learn tasks specific to their dining facility.


Cooks prepare entrees that are on the dining facility's menu. Military chefs have experience frying, baking, boiling, steaming, and sautéing food, while maintaining cooking equipment, in military dining facilities.

A cook's responsibilities may differ based on the establishment where they work. There are five main types of civilian cooks: restaurant cooks, fast-food cooks, cafeteria/institution cooks, short-order cooks, and private household cooks. Although the restaurant and private household cooks often attend a culinary school, most cooks learn through on-the-job training. Ex-military chefs transition very well into the aforementioned civilian cook positions.

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