Cooks and Chefs

Cook/Chef Preparing Green Beans

Cooks and chefs are employed in the preparation and cooking of food, usually in large quantities, in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, and other establishments and institutions. Chefs and head cooks generally supervise cooks and other food preparation workers. There are about 129,370 chefs and head cooks employed in the United States and more than 2.3 million cooks.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Executive Chefs, Short-Order Cooks, Sous Chefs
Duties Prepare and cook food; plan menus; follow recipes; estimate amount of food needed for specific event or time period; order and purchase food from suppliers; use various equipment found in kitchens
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all regions, but will be strongest in cities and other locations with many restaurants
Minimum Education Level
  • Some Postsecondary Training
  • Apprenticeship
School Subjects
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Family and Consumer Science
Experience On-the-job training
Personality Traits
  • Hands On
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
  • Business Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Health certificate required in some states
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Head Chef or Restaurant Owner
  • Cook
  • Food Preparation Worker
  • Kitchen Helper