Executive Chef Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming an Executive Chef or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Executive Chef, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Executive Chef job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
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How To Become a Chef

If you love creating delicious meals, and you enjoy leading others, consider a career as a chef. To become a chef, follow these steps:
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1

Get culinary training.

While there are no specific education requirements for becoming a chef, you'll need at least some on-the-job training and experience. More expensive restaurants often require an associate's or bachelor's degree in culinary arts from a university, community college, or specialized culinary arts school. Many more establishments ask for a high school diploma or GED.

Getting a degree can also help you advance your career faster. Before you pursue a degree, get a job as a line cook. That way, you can use your experience in the restaurant industry on your application. You can also learn more about what being a chef is like and make a more informed decision about your career goals.

Many culinary programs offer hands-on internships to help you get even more experience. These programs cover aspects of the job like planning menus, ordering ingredients and supplies, and food safety. It's also a good idea to get one or more additional certifications. The American Culinary Federation offers certifications for executive or master chefs, culinary administrators, sous chefs, and personal chefs. Executive chefs coordinate the work of other chefs, train employees, design menus, and make food and beverage purchases. A sous chef reports directly to an executive chef, and a personal chef plans and prepares meals in a private home.

2

Apply for entry-level positions, such as commis chef.

No matter how much training you receive, you won't be able to become a top chef without accumulating some experience in a more entry-level position. For example, chefs de partie work on preparing specific types of dishes, like desserts, fish, or pasta, and commis chefs act as assistants for chefs de partie.

When you apply for chef jobs, list any experience, certifications, or degrees on your resume. Discuss your past accomplishments, such as menu items you developed or ways you helped reduce costs. When possible, use the keywords and phrases that you see in the job description. Many companies use specialized software to screen candidates, and a real person may not look at your application and offer you an interview without the right phrasing.

3

Network and advance your career.

After you find a job, work hard and learn cooking techniques from people in the positions above you. Do your best to make friends and form relationships with coworkers. That way, people will be more likely to tell you about job openings they hear about. You might even meet someone that you want to start a restaurant with. Owning your own business is riskier than working for someone else, but it lets you create your own unique menu and atmosphere.

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Related Careers in the Retail & Food Services Industry

Interested in other Retail & Food Services careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Executive Chef skills. Discover some of the most common Executive Chef career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Executive Chef
No skills overlap
90% transitioned to Executive Chef