Sous Chef: Job Duties, Employment Outlook and Training Requirements

Research what it takes to become a sous chef. Learn about employment outlook, salary and training requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Sous chefs help prepare and cook simple foods for the head chef in restaurants and other eating establishments. The table can explain job duties, training requirements, optional certifications and career outlook.

Training Required On-the-job training; apprenticeships and internships are other options
Key Skills Physical stamina, attention to detail, time management, sense of taste and smell
Certification Certification from American Culinary Federation is optional
Job Growth (2012-2022) 5% (for all chefs and head cooks)*
Median Salary (2014) $39,967 (for all sous chefs)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Does a Sous Chef Do?

The highest ranked chef in a restaurant is an executive or head chef. The sous (a French word meaning 'under') chef is the second-in-command. As a sous chef, your duties may include preparing ingredients for the head cook or chef. You might cut up fruits and vegetables, mix spices, prepare meats and other tasks. You could also prepare simple dishes for patrons. Additionally, the sous may be responsible for keeping the kitchen properly stocked with food and utensils and cleaning up each day.

What is the Employment Outlook?

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment is expected to be slower than average, about five percent. This growth is credited to workers who leave the occupation. Chefs typically have high turnover rates due to the amount of time and energy required for the job. Additionally, sous chefs that work at upscale eating establishments will encounter stronger competition than occupations in lower-level restaurants.

What Training Do I Need?

You have a few options when selecting a training program, although most sous chefs learn through on-the-job training, internships and apprenticeships. Prior work experience is often the major contributing factor toward full-time employment, and you'll want to choose an option that helps you acquire experience. A typical culinary arts apprenticeship program involves hands-on experience where you'll cook and prepare food under an expert chef. This work experience may be paid in some programs.

Alternatively, high schools and technical colleges often offer classes, certificate programs and degrees in food preparation or other suitable areas. As a student in one of these programs, you might take a culinary food preparation program with courses in catering, banquets, baking, food safety and sanitation.

Certification may prove beneficial if you're a sous chef interested in working for more upscale restaurants. The American Culinary Federation offers one certification often preferred by employers. This certificate allows chefs, regardless of specialty, to showcase their cooking, nutrition, sanitary and food preparation skills against the industry benchmarks.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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