How do you become a Chef?

Do you love cooking or preparing meals to satisfy empty stomachs? We will give you the rundown on all the different qualifications, courses and skills. Of course, we will inform you of your potential salary and the work experience you can get to advance your career. Read on! And we will walk you through your salary and the benefits of being a chef.

What do Chefs do?

Let's start with where you could work. Your working environment can differ, either in restaurants, hospitals, schools or for those looking for an adventurous position on a cruise ship.

Your chef responsibilities depend on your experience and set responsibilities, you can prepare menus that are attractive for customers and meet nutritional standards. This requires your extensive knowledge of nutrition, food types and flavour components to create delicious meals that everyone will love, hopefully.

You also control the use of stock and handling deliveries to reduce the amount of food wasted. You must be able to handle deliveries of stock and inspecting the produce is consumable.

With any career as a chef, preparing, cooking and presenting food promptly needs great skills and attention to detail. Working under pressure is your entire job, whilst maintaining standards of hygiene, health and safety, and licensing rules.

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Qualifications to become a Chef


Qualification for chefs, there are plenty of options at university which are available to you. There are foundation degrees, higher national diplomas and degrees in culinary arts or professional cookery. Which can advance your career compared to other candidates applying for a position. For degrees 2 to 3, A-levels or the equivalent are needed. Other types of diplomas and degrees need 1 to 2 A-levels to enrol.


Other options include college courses which are available from the age of 16; these courses allow you to start at a younger age. There are multiple courses that you can choose from, including:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery
  • T Level in Catering
  • Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts

These chef courses all have different entry requirements. So level three requires 4 or 5 GCSEs at 9 to 4, T level needs the same, however, they must include English and Maths. Whilst with level 4 courses 1 or 2 A-levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience is needed to enrol in these courses.

Work Experience

Chef apprenticeships are readily available in all subjects. There are so many different types to choose from in the culinary sector. Some of these include:

  • Production chef intermediate
  • Commis Chef Intermediate
  • Senior Production Chef Advanced
  • Chef de Partie advanced

These apprenticeships help you not only to receive a diploma and certificates but valuable skills and knowledge to use when you are starting your career as a chef. However, there are some entry requirements you need to think about before you enrol. For intermediate apprenticeships, employers look for some GCSEs with English and Maths included. The advanced apprenticeships require 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 with your English and Maths as well.

Skills needed to become a Chef

Management Skills

Your management skills in the kitchen are crucial as you're planning, organising and overseeing orders through to completion is your main priority. Having management skills is not just your interpersonal, time management or your communication skills. It means your technical skills, what you know about the industry, or the tools needed to do your job.

Working Under Pressure

Chef skills, as mentioned previously, your time management under pressure is vital. Having the ability to deal with constraints can sometimes be out of your control. Your actions to handle these can impact how customers, waiters and management see your experience and knowledge working at an advanced level.

Customer Service Skills

Working in the hospitality industry, your customer service skills need to be on point. Building a career in this line of work helps develop these skills effectively. Your skills can help to solve issues with customer satisfaction, communicating menus or listening to what the customers need.

Salaries of Chefs in the UK

The average salary for a chef in the UK is £26,000 per year, which works out to £1,730 net per month. However, entry-level positions start at £23,000 whilst more experienced chefs can make upwards from £35,000. Although, if you are incredibly successful, you can have a salary exceeding £150,000.

Salaries of Chefs in the UK

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Overview of a Chef

Profession Group Hospitality
Minimum Age 18 (due to some machinery)
Education Requirements GCSEs
Salary Indication £25,300
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FAQs about Chefs

  • What is a 5-star chef called?

  • Chefs with these titles often go by Head Chef, Executive Chef or Chef de Cuisine. These are the chefs in charge of all kitchen operations supervising the cooks and kitchen staff.

  • How many levels of chefs are there?

  • There are seven types of chefs in the hierarchy, ranging from Executive Chef to Purchasing Manager. There are plenty in the middle where you can take courses or work experience to start your career as a chef.
    This hierarchy is:

    • Executive chef
    • Chef de Cuisine (Head Chef)
    • Sous Chef (Deputy Head Chef)
    • Chef De Partie (Station Chef)
    • Commis Chef (Junior Chef)
    • Kitchen Porter
    • Escuelerie (Dishwasher)

  • What country is the best place to be a chef?

  • Regarding the highest net incomes for chefs, Switzerland is by far the highest and most successful place to become a chef. Switzerland has 119 Michelin-starred restaurants, so you’ll have to be highly skilled and knowledgeable about being a chef. Here is our jobs abroad page, so you can find the perfect country for you.

See more of our professions guide