Chef Job Outlook

Get information about the culinary career outlook and industry statistics.

If you're thinking about starting a culinary career, there are some encouraging signs for today's aspiring chefs. The restaurant industry is thriving. As one of the largest private-sector employers, the restaurant industry employs 13 million people, in both front-of-the-house and kitchen positions, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

However, the career outlook for culinary school graduates who want executive chef positions or jobs in top restaurants isn't all rosy. These aspiring chefs should expect to face tough competition. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, there are over 118,000 chefs and head cooks, and almost 874,000 food preparation workers.

Chef Job Outlook, Forecasts and Facts

  • According to the BLS, the number of jobs for chefs and head cooks is expected to rise 9 percent through 2024, and food prep workers should see 6 percent job growth in the same time frame. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
  • The restaurant industry will continue to fuel U.S. employment in the year ahead as the nation’s second largest private sector employer.
  • The restaurant industry added jobs at a strong 3.5 percent rate in 2014.

  • In 2015, restaurant sales reached a record $709 billion, the sixth consecutive year of real growth in restaurant sales.

Getting the Culinary Career You Want

Despite the favorable outlook for the restaurant and food service industry, getting that plum chef job remains a competitive undertaking. A culinary degree can make you a more competitive job candidate as you start your culinary career, so look into your culinary school options, to see if this is the right path for you.

In addition to all your qualifications, it will take determination and hard work to put you on track to reach your culinary career goals. Your positive attitude and commitment to your career may be the biggest asset you have when applying for the jobs you want.

Sources: National Restaurant Association,; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.