Head chef

Alternative titles for this job include Kitchen manager, executive chef, chef de cuisine

Head chefs oversee restaurants’ staff, food and budgets.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£50,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

40 to 48 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on split shifts

How to become a head chef

You could get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You could study for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • culinary arts
  • hospitality management
  • professional cookery

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information


You could do a college course like a Level 3 Diploma In Advanced Professional Cookery or Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course

More information


You could take chef de partie or senior chef advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information


Most head chefs work their way up after starting in a job like a kitchen assistant, before working as a section chef and building up their experience.

You'll also need a qualification in food safety.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers in catering from the Hospitality Guild and CareerScope.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of food production methods
  • maths knowledge
  • leadership skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning menus and creating dishes
  • making sure food is of the right quality and price
  • managing stock
  • ordering food from suppliers
  • controlling a budget and keeping accurate records
  • managing health and hygiene procedures
  • organising the staff duty rota
  • recruiting, training and developing staff

Working environment

You could work at a restaurant, in an NHS or private hospital or on a cruise ship.

Your working environment may be hot and humid.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could go on to manage larger kitchens and more staff. You may work for a large restaurant chain managing more than one kitchen. This is a management role and you would do very little cooking.

You could also set up your own business, running your own restaurant or franchise. Some chefs set up their own restaurant brand.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Cook

  • Wage : £334.00 Weekly
  • Location: Matlock DE4 2JW

Apprentice Chef

  • Wage : £16,000.00 Annually
  • Location: Deal CT14 6HY

Courses In England

Professional Cookery NVQ Diploma Level 3

  • Provider: YORK COLLEGE
  • Start date: 08 September 2020
  • Location: York

Professional Cookery NVQ Diploma Level 3

  • Start date: 10 September 2020
  • Location: WALTHAM FOREST

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