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Chef Job Outlook

Get information about the culinary career outlook and industry statistics.

chef visiting table of patrons at restaurant

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 14.5 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) 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook, there are over 152,800 chefs and head cooks.

Chef Job Outlook, Forecasts and Facts

  • According to the BLS, the number of jobs for chefs and head cooks is expected to rise 15% through 2031, though food prep workers should see a 2% job growth in the same time frame, which is slower than the average of 5% for all careers. 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 projects another 400,000 jobs through 2022.
  • By the end of 2022, restaurant sales are projected to reach $898 billion in sales.

Getting the Culinary Career You Want

Despite the generally favorable outlook for the restaurant and foodservice 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, 2021 National Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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