“You don’t go into being a chef for the money.”
Anne Burrell, Chef
Pros and Cons of Working as a Chef
You think about becoming a chef? Great!
However, before you make your final decision, make sure to read this blog post since I show you all the pros and cons of being a chef in this article.
Maybe you will change your mind after carefully evaluating all the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a chef and decide for an alternative career path instead.
Being a Chef – Job Profile
|Short Job Description||Chefs cook delicious meals for their customers.|
|Salary||$48,000 per year on average, ranging from $32,000 – $65,000.|
|Job Security||Decent job security.|
|Job Satisfaction||Good if you like cooking.|
|Work-Life Balance||Poor work-life balance since you have to work on weekends and holidays.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Physically and mentally demanding job.|
|Future Outlook||Good since not many people want to do this job anymore.|
|Requirements||No special educational requirements necessary.|
Advantages of Being a Chef
- You can improve your cooking knowledge
- You can learn about different cultures
- Chefs can cook for many people
- Can also help you to impress people in your private life
- Being a chef can be a passion
- You can lead your kitchen crew
- Chefs learn multitasking pretty soon
- Ambition to get better every day
- Chefs can build a strong network
- You can give people a good time
- Chefs are crucial for the success of restaurants
- You can open your own restaurant
- Chefs can travel the world
- Chefs are allowed to be creative
- Decent job security as a chef
- Low barriers to entry
You can improve your cooking knowledge
One advantage of being a chef is that you can significantly improve your cooking skills over time.
Similar to pastry chefs, while you might start out with rather limited knowledge of cooking at an advanced level, you will soon become better since you can learn a lot from your colleagues.
If you are a curious person who always wants to learn new things and has the ambition to improve, you can learn a lot every day as a chef.
This is especially true in a competitive environment where you have many ambitious people working in a kitchen.
In such a case, you will push each other and everyone of you will become much better over time.
Consequently, this will also boost your confidence since you will learn how to gain trust in yourself and in your abilities in general.
Since confidence is key to succeeding not only in cooking, but also for various other parts of life, becoming a chef can greatly improve your overall quality of life in the long run.
You can learn about different cultures
You can also learn a lot about different cultures by becoming a chef.
In fact, there are so many different dishes from countries you probably never heard of.
Yet, those dishes are often quite delicious and by learning how to cook them in the correct manner, you can really offer your guests a unique culinary experience.
Therefore, your guests will be pretty happy since they won’t often get those exotic dishes in most other restaurants and will also be more likely to come back.
While you can please your guests, you can also learn a lot for yourself since you will learn how to cook dishes from many different cultural parts of the world.
Chefs can cook for many people
Another benefit of being a chef is that you learn how to cook for many people at the same time.
While you might think about yourself as a good cook at home, it is completely different to cook under high pressure in a professional kitchen.
In fact, it is quite hard to serve all meals in decent quality within a reasonable timeframe so that your guests don’t have to wait.
While this can be quite stressful, you really learn how to organize yourself as a chef and over time, you will develop a certain routine regarding how to deal with those stressful situations.
Can also help you to impress people in your private life
Since you will learn how to cook for many different people, you can also transfer the knowledge from your professional career and use it for your private life.
In fact, your family and your friends will be quite thankful if you cook tasty dishes for them.
Not many people can cook at a high level and if you are the one who provides this high quality, chances are that you will enjoy a high reputation among your peers.
You can also help your friends out for their birthday and cook for them at their party.
There are so many occasions where you could support others as a cook and in the long run, this will also pay off for you.
Consequently, if you are a rather social person who loves to make the lives of other people better, becoming a chef can also be a great career choice for you in this regard.
Being a chef can be a passion
For many people, working as a chef is more than a job.
Especially on the higher levels, chefs often not only work for the money, they really work to compete with other cooks and to compare their skills with the best.
In fact, if you just consider cooking to be your job and don’t have any interest in it, chances are that you will never become really good at it since your brain will subconsciously sabotage you.
Thus, before becoming a chef, make sure that you have a high level of interest for this job.
Only then will you be able to develop a real passion for cooking and will stay in your profession for many years or even for a lifetime.
You can lead your kitchen crew
Another upside of being a chef is that you can also learn how to become a true leader.
In fact, once you gain more seniority, you will often lead the kitchen and you will have many employees who follow your commands.
While it is not easy to lead people and it will take a while until you learn this important skill, it can be quite interesting since you can provide your knowledge to the next ambitious generation of cooks.
In fact, it can be awesome to coach people and see them progress.
Hence, as a chef, you will not only be able to cook tasty dishes, you will also be able to educate the younger generation of chefs that still has a lot to learn.
Chefs learn multitasking pretty soon
Another important skill you will learn as a cook is multitasking.
There are not many jobs out there where multitasking is so important.
In fact, if you can’t handle multiple things at a time as a chef, you will get lost pretty soon and your time in the kitchen will be a nightmare.
Consequently, as a chef, you have to learn to coordinate yourself pretty well and you also have to learn the perfect timing, not only for you, but also for your employees.
While all of this can be pretty stressful, it can also help you on various other occasions in your life since handling multiple tasks in a rather short period of time is a valuable skill that you can also use in your private life.
Ambition to get better every day
Another upside of becoming a chef is that you will also develop the ambition to get better every day.
Especially if you work with ambitious colleagues in a restaurant with a good reputation, chances are that your colleagues will also try to get better every day.
In turn, you will push each other to new highs and this will pay off for everyone of you in the long run.
Always remember that you as a chef will only keep your job if the quality of food you serve is good enough.
Hence, by pushing each other, you and your colleagues can get to a high skill level pretty soon and will have pretty good job opportunities since good chefs will always be needed.
Chefs can build a strong network
Especially if you work in highly reputable restaurants together with starred chefs, chances are that you will also be able to build a really strong network.
In fact, networking is crucial to improve your job opportunities in the long run and if you have already worked with the best cooks, your chances to find another job will also be pretty good.
You can even attend conferences and exhibitions as a cook and make additional connections.
Thanks to our nowadays technology, you can even start your own cooking channel on YouTube and can further improve your reputation and your popularity.
Opportunities are endless and it has never been easier to connect to the best people in your field than it currently is.
You can give people a good time
As a chef, your main task will be to cook tasty dishes to make people happy.
In fact, you will cook directly for your clients and can get direct feedback from them.
If many guests come back, this will be the appreciation for you and you will know that you do a good job.
Hence, you will get direct and honest feedback regarding the quality of food you are cooking and this can help you to get to the next level in your cooking career.
It will also keep you motivated since you know that people often pay significant amounts of money for your dishes and you want to give those people something adequate back in return.
Chefs are crucial for the success of restaurants
As a chef, you will also have an important role in your restaurant.
In fact, especially if you have a leading role, you will be the one who can really make a difference regarding the success of the restaurant.
If you do a great job, guests will be lining up in front of your venue.
However, if you do a bad job, the reputation of your restaurant will be gone soon.
Thus, you will have a great level of responsibility for the success of the restaurant you work in.
While some people don’t want to have those high levels of responsibility, others love it and you should make sure that you belong to the second category of people who really want to make a positive impact and to take on the responsibility that comes along with it.
You can open your own restaurant
As a chef, you also don’t have to work as an employee forever.
After a few years of acquiring knowledge, you can also just quit your job and open your own restaurant.
Especially if you are rather the entrepreneurial type of person, this might be much better and more enjoyable for you compared to working for someone else.
However, don’t underestimate the pressure that comes along with having your own restaurant.
It takes plenty of work to make it successful and you will also have to learn many additional skills apart from cooking, including accounting, legal aspects and much more.
Chefs can travel the world
If you are still young and don’t have a family yet, being a chef can also be great to travel the world.
In fact, in every country of our planet, people want to eat tasty food and if you are good at what you are doing, you will find a job in almost every corner of our planet.
Thus, many young chefs decide for an international cooking career and travel to many different places.
Hence, if you are a rather curious person who always wants to learn new things and who also wants to travel the world, being a chef can also be the right choice for you in this regard.
Chefs are allowed to be creative
Especially if you are a creative person, being a chef can also be a great career path for you.
In fact, you will have the opportunity to create countless different dishes during your career as a chef.
Hence, you will always be able to change your cooking style and to develop yourself further.
Opportunities are endless and if you are a creative person, chances are that you will be able to reinvent yourself pretty often as a chef.
Decent job security as a chef
Depending on the quality of food you can cook, you will also have pretty decent job security as a chef.
People always want to go out and eat good food.
Hence, if you are good enough, you should not worry about your job prospects as a chef at all.
In fact, if you are really passionate and good at what you are doing, chances are that you will have many different job opportunities and can simply choose the best overall package.
Low barriers to entry
While you could take numerous cooking classes, they are actually not urgently needed for becoming a chef.
If you are really passionate about cooking and already acquired some knowledge in your private life, you will often be able to get a job as a chef for an entry-level position.
Once you get more experienced, you can then get to a higher level or also change the restaurant you want to work for.
As you can see, you don’t have to spend significant amounts of money on college education for becoming a chef.
Instead, you can save this money and can spend it for the down payment for your house or for other important things.
Disadvantages of Being a Chef
- Salaries for most chefs are rather low
- Chefs often have to work on weekends
- Chefs work long hours
- You may be away from your family on holidays
- Being a chef can be stressful
- Information overload during busy times
- You are dependent on your kitchen crew
- It can be pretty hot in the kitchen
- Problematic if you lose your passion for cooking
- Chefs may have problems finding a partner
- You will smell when you come back home
- Some people will never be happy
- Pressure as starred chef can be enormous
- Many chefs burn out in the long run
- Minor accidents are rather common
Salaries for most chefs are rather low
Apart from the numerous advantages of being a chef, this profession also has some downsides.
For instance, one problem with being a chef is that the average salary is rather low compared to the salary of dentists or other people working in fancy jobs in the corporate world.
In fact, many chefs who work in normal restaurants are barely able to save some money since they often have to spend almost all of it on rent and other basic expenses.
This is especially true in big metropolitan areas where rents are far too high and chefs are often barely able to find a place to live.
Of course, your salary will increase if you work in highly reputable restaurants.
But for most chefs, this will not be the case and they will often not be able to afford many nice things for their lives due to their low salaries.
Chefs often have to work on weekends
Another disadvantage of becoming a chef is that you will also often have to work on weekends.
In fact, most people go to restaurants on Saturday and Sunday and to provide those people with food, you will be the one who has to work while most other people enjoy their leisure.
This can not only be quite annoying, it can also lead to serious family problems since you will often not be able to make weekend trips with your family due to your job.
Chefs work long hours
As a chef, you will also have to work quite long hours.
For instance, it is not uncommon that chefs work until late evening.
Many guests, especially in fancy restaurants, will not show up before 8 p.m. and it can take until midnight until those guests leave.
Consequently, before deciding for a career as a chef, make sure that you are willing to work those long hours.
You may be away from your family on holidays
Chefs not only have to work long hours and on weekends, they often also have to work on holidays.
In fact, many people want to enjoy good meals during holiday season and you will be the one preparing those dishes.
However, this also implies that you will be away from your family during this time.
Especially on Christmas Eve, it can be quite sad if you have to work and can’t celebrate this day with your kids and your wife.
Thus, make sure that you are willing to make those sacrifices as a chef or if you rather want to look out for an alternative career path instead.
Being a chef can be stressful
You should also not underestimate the level of stress that comes along with being a chef.
In fact, especially during busy times, you will have to prepare numerous meals at the same time and you will often be pushed to your boundaries.
Some guests will also complain about the quality of your food and this can even mean additional stress.
Only few people are able to handle this stress in a healthy manner and if you are a person who easily gets stressed, chances are that working as a chef will not make you happy in the long run.
Information overload during busy times
Many chefs also suffer from information overload.
Especially in times where many orders come in at the same moment, many chefs are just not able to process all this information in a proper manner and mistakes are rather common.
It is also crucial to stay calm and focused in those moments so that your staff members will also stay on track.
In the long run, many people are just not able to process all this information in a healthy manner and some of them even suffer from mental issues due to that.
Hence, before becoming a chef, make sure that you are a calm and focused person who is able to handle plenty of information at the same time.
You are dependent on your kitchen crew
While chefs have the responsibility for the overall outcome and for the quality of their dishes, they are also greatly dependent on their kitchen crew.
In fact, without good kitchen staff, chefs will just not be able to perform that well.
Consequently, if you have to work in a restaurant with bad and unmotivated kitchen staff, chances are that your time as a chef will not be great and you will not like your job that much.
It can be pretty hot in the kitchen
An additional downside of being a chef is that it can be pretty hot in the kitchen.
In fact, temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit are quite common in kitchens and since cooking implies plenty of movement and physical exercise, high temperatures can be quite annoying and exhausting.
Hence, as a chef, you will have to work under rather poor working conditions and you should make sure that you are willing to do so before deciding for working in this field.
Problematic if you lose your passion for cooking
Becoming a chef is especially problematic in case you lose your passion for cooking after a while.
There are not many other jobs than cooking that you could do as a chef and you will therefore have significant problems if you do no longer want to work as a chef.
Quite often, you need many years of schooling to get a different job.
Thus, make sure that cooking is really your passion and that you want to work in this field for quite a long time to avoid serious consequences in the long run.
Chefs may have problems finding a partner
Due to the long and irregular working hours, chefs often have problems with maintaining relationships.
Moreover, since many chefs don’t earn that much money, they also have difficulties to attract a partner in the dating market.
You will smell when you come back home
Since you will be exposed to several kinds of foods all day long, chances are that you will also smell pretty bad once you finish your shift and come back home.
While this might just be a minor issue, your partner may still get annoyed over time.
Some people will never be happy
While most guests will appreciate your good work, others will just always find something to complain about.
In fact, some people just can’t be happy and will try to bring you down, even though they might secretly have enjoyed the food you created for them.
Thus, make sure that you have a stable mindset so that you can just ignore people who try to bring you down.
Pressure as starred chef can be enormous
Especially if you work as a starred chef, the pressure will be enormous.
Starred chefs can lose their star if they don’t continue to cook on a high level.
This leads to a state where many starred chefs try to do everything to keep their star and their reputation.
However, this also implies serious pressure and many starred cooks just break under this pressure in the long run.
Many chefs burn out in the long run
Since the job as a chef can be quite demanding and chefs have to deal with plenty of information every day, many chefs also suffer from burnout sooner or later.
Since only a small fraction of chefs actually admit that, the actual number of burnouts among chefs will even be much higher in reality.
Minor accidents are rather common
As a chef, you will also suffer from many minor issues during your career.
In fact, bruises and small smaller cuts are quite common and you should be willing to make those sacrifices before deciding for a culinary career.
Top 10 Being a Chef Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Chef Pros||Being a Chef Cons|
|Chefs can make their guests happy||Being a chef can be stressful|
|Being a chef can make you more creative||Salaries are rather low|
|You can cook for your loved ones||Chefs often have to work on weekends|
|Chefs can build a strong network||You may have to work on holidays|
|You can become a leader||Shifts can be quite long|
|Being a chef as a passion||Some guests will never be happy|
|You can make people happy||Can lead to family problems|
|You get direct feedback||Some chefs burn out|
|Chefs can travel the world||Pressure can be enormous|
|You can always develop||Accidents are rather common|
Should You Become A Chef?
You can see from the previous analysis that there are numerous advantages and disadvantages of being a chef.
In the end, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to become a chef or if you want to go for an alternative career path instead.
If you are still interested in a career as a chef, you may also want to get detailed information on the salary, career prospects, educational requirements, working hours and job satisfaction of chefs.
Also make sure to check out the following articles:
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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