Cooks and Chefs



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.

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Some Postsecondary Training



On-the-job training



Business Management


Personality Traits

Hands On


The salaries earned by chefs and cooks are widely divergent and depend on many factors, such as the size, type, and location of the establishment, and the skill, experience, training, and specialization of the worker. Salaries are usually fairly standard among establishments of the same type. For example, restaurants and diners serving inexpensive meals and a sandwich-type menu generally pay co...

Work Environment

Working conditions vary with the place of employment. Many kitchens are modern, well lighted, well equipped, and air-conditioned, but some older, smaller eating establishments may be only marginally equipped. The work of cooks can be strenuous, with long hours of standing, lifting heavy pots, and working near hot ovens and ranges. Possible hazards include falls, cuts, and burns, although seriou...


Overall, employment of chefs and head cooks is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all careers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The demand for cooks and chefs will grow as the population increases, consumers demand healthier and higher-quality dishes, and lifestyles change. As people earn higher incomes and have more leisure time, they din...