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Career Profile: Chef

Why Is Culinary Arts a Job of Tomorrow?
People will always need to eat, and dining out remains a big part of socializing, so chefs will remain in demand. Employment opportunities for chefs are expected to increase 8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chef salaries vary greatly depending on skill and employer. For example, a chef working at a high-end restaurant will typically earn more than one working at a small family business. However, the average salary of chefs is about $34,370 annually.

What Does a Chef Do?
Unlike food preparation workers, who are responsible for performing routine tasks such as peeling produce, slicing vegetables and deboning meat, chefs manage kitchen staffers and handle the bulk of the actual cooking. Many chefs are assigned to specific duties in the kitchen. For example, some chefs may deal primarily in preparing seafood dishes, others in soups and stocks, and still others in baking breads or preparing desserts. These designated specialties allow chefs to focus on working in their areas of expertise, as well as keep the kitchen running smoothly and efficiently. Specialty chefs work in a station equipped with the machinery, cutlery and tools that they need, and some may also have assistants helping them. Chefs are responsible for ordering supplies and ingredients. Chefs can also work as research chefs, developing menu items for chain restaurants.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Chef?
Unlike cooks who typically receive on-the-job training, chefs often attend culinary school. Most chefs also have at least a high school diploma and attend a culinary school to learn about food safety and cooking techniques. Culinary school can last two to four years, depending on the student's specific track. Although it is not required, chefs can become certified by the American Culinary Federation to increase their marketability.