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Career profile: Chef

Career profile: ChefIf you want to be the next Gordon Ramsay, you’ll need more than a big voice and a short temper. Find out how to get the skills you need and find your first job.

What does it involve?

As a chef, your main responsibility will be preparing food, but you’ll also be involved in stock control, monitoring health and safety and other tasks around the kitchen. As you become more senior, you may also be responsible for supervising other chefs, planning menus, handling budgets and other management tasks.

If you’re considering becoming a chef, be prepared for the less glamorous side of the job: it will involve late nights and working at weekends and on bank holidays. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet in hot, uncomfortable environments - and you can expect a few burns and cuts as well.

Becoming a chef

You don’t need specific qualifications to become a trainee chef, but there are courses you can take that will give you some of the skills you need, such as the Diploma in Professional Cookery. These will involve both classroom study and practical experience. A common way to take these is as an apprenticeship - a paid training position which leads to a qualification. If you impress your employer, they might take you on once your apprenticeship finishes.

Once you are working, you should continue to receive training and you may have the opportunity to take further qualifications in both cookery and hospitality management.

If you’re not yet ready for training, getting a job in a restaurant could be a good start even if you’re not preparing food. You’ll get an idea for how a restaurant works, and start making contacts in the industry that could help you get your first job in a kitchen.

How much will I earn?

Trainee chefs can expect to earn around £13,000 a year. As you become more senior, this will increase: a sous chef can earn around £22,000 and a head chef £30,000 or more. This will also vary around the country and from restaurant to restaurant.

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