How to Become a Chef

From Gordon Ramsey to Ina Garten, there are a whole host of world-renowned chefs you may idolize and want to follow in the footsteps of. It is a competitive field where you need more than a passion for success. However, training and hard work can enable you to make it in the culinary world. If you are ready to work hard and get your hands dirty, read on to find out how to become a chef.

What does the role of a chef involve?

As the face of the restaurant, chefs play a crucial role in its success as they are responsible for all operations of the culinary establishment. General aspects of the position include menu planning, ingredient ordering, staff supervision, staff training, and producing consistent, high-quality dishes. Alongside their kitchen duties, chefs interact with front-of-house staff and sometimes customers. In larger establishments, there may be numerous chefs, in which case each chef will focus on one specific aspect of the job so the kitchen can run smoothly.

What skills do you need to be a chef?

Being a chef is a demanding and fast-paced role that involves many specific skills. These include:

  • Great communication
  • Excellent teamwork
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong knowledge of cooking techniques, recipes, and ingredients
  • High levels of cleanliness
  • The ability to work well under high levels of pressure
  • The confidence to lead a team of staff
  • Genuine passion for the role

What is the salary of a chef?

The salary will vary depending on the area and the specific restaurant you work in. However, the national median wage for chefs is $53,380 a year. Although, the country's top chefs can take home up to $317,332 annually.

What education do I need to become a chef?

Formal education is not mandatory for this role, so some chefs choose to learn the bulk of their trade from hands-on experience in training roles at the start of their careers. Although, it is essential to note that gaining a degree may make you stand out to future employers and give them a sense of confidence that you can fulfill the role. Below are the steps included in gaining a culinary education.

High school diploma The first step you will need to complete to become a chef is completing your high school diploma. There is also the option to complete GED programs to start your path.

Further education There are a few different paths you can take at this point to lead you to the goal of becoming a chef. The main options for proceeding are a culinary school, community college, trade school, or four-year school. It is imperative to look into each path to discover which one will provide the best advantages for your career development.

Work experience Now you get to put everything you have learned to use. You will need a high level of experience to progress in your role as a chef, so it is important to start strong. It is unlikely that you will be hired as a chef fresh out of education but find a job in the general field so you can gain valuable experience that will boost your knowledge and employability.

Go for gold Once you have some experience under your belt and have done some networking in the industry, you can start searching for your dream role. Begin applying for chef roles in your current workplace or other restaurants.


Becoming a chef can be a time-consuming process that can lead you to a rewarding and highly lucrative career. If you are passionate about cooking and can work well under the high-pressure levels that working in a commercial kitchen can bring, becoming a chef may be an ideal career choice for you.


What qualifications do you need to become a chef?

There is no specific need for formal education when becoming a chef. In this role, it is possible to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up until you are where you want to be. However, having further education in a culinary-based program can provide you a leg up to being closer to your goal of being a full-fledged chef. The educational background may also make you stand out over people without relevant education when you come to apply for jobs.

Is becoming a chef a good career choice?

Becoming a chef is a good career choice for anybody who is passionate about the world of food and wants to work in a fast-paced and hands-on environment. Chefs are well known to work long and somewhat unsociable hours and days, including weekends and holidays, but if you are highly devoted to the profession, this may not be an issue for you.

How do I start my career as a chef?

If you want to jump straight into the kitchen with the vision of working your way to becoming a chef, you should start applying for jobs as soon as you can. Apply for roles where experience is not necessary, for example, a kitchen porter. During your time working in this role, you will get an idea of the atmosphere and gain new skills.

After working in this job for a few years and gaining all the insight you can, start looking at the next step: apply for a junior chef or station chef role that will provide you with hands-on experience working with food. After this, you can continue to work your way up through the kitchen roles. The next position you should look to apply for is the deputy (sous) chef, then head chef.

Taking the educational route may provide you with a quicker road to your desired job role. Although, you may still have to begin your career in a slightly lower position to get relevant experience before moving into a head chef role. There are numerous different education courses, offered by many schools and colleges, that set you up for success. However, attending culinary school may be the route that proves most desirable when applying for jobs in the field.