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Chefs prepare, cook and present food.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £13,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 to 45 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but GCSEs (A* to C) in English and maths, and a course in professional cookery, catering or hospitality could help.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

For more careers advice, visit Hospitality Guild.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • organisational skills to manage a busy workload
  • excellent communication skills
  • teamwork and leadership skills

3. What you'll do

You could work in hotels,  restaurants, schools, colleges, the NHS or the armed forces. Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • food preparation
  • cooking and presenting food creatively
  • monitoring food production to maintain quality and consistent portion sizes
  • making sure that food is served promptly
  • stock control

In a busy restaurant, you'll be working under pressure. You'll need to follow hygiene, health and safety guidelines.

4. Salary

Starter: £13,000 (trainee chef)

Experienced: £16,000 to £22,000 (section chef)

Highly Experienced: £30,000 to £50,000 (head chef)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working day may start in the early morning or continue to late at night. You may work weekends and public holidays. You could get seasonal work.

Kitchens are hot, humid and busy around meal times. You'll wear chef whites and a hat.

6. Career path and progression

You'll usually start as a kitchen assistant or trainee chef (commis chef). With experience, you could progress to section chef (station chef) and look after an area like desserts. The next step is sous chef, running an entire kitchen when the head chef's busy.

As head chef (also known as executive chef and chef de cuisine), you'll run a kitchen, create menus and manage the budget.

You could specialise in regional dishes like Thai, Chinese or Indian.

You could move into the business side by taking a foundation degree or degree in hospitality management.

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Last updated: 21 December 2016