What qualifications do I need to be a Chef?

Watch any of today's popular TV programmes about chefs and you will realise you will be working in a stressful environment. Chefs work long hours in hot and stressful environments, but the rewards and satisfaction can outweigh the downfalls for many people.

There are really two routes to becoming a chef. Firstly getting a job in a kitchen and working your way to the top whilst training along the way. This can involve training under an experienced top chef, or taking courses, such as professional cookery and food hygiene as you work. A mixture of both would be ideal.

Alternatively you can study full time at college. Courses usually include a lot of practical work and placements in kitchen environments to ensure you get plenty of practical experience as well.

Pros
• Creative
• You can express yourself though your food

Cons
• Long and unsociable hours
• Hot and stressful working environment
• Responsibility for food hygiene and health and safety can lead to lots of paperwork at times
• Pressure to cook to budgets

You can get a job in a kitchen straight from school, and work your way up. Some useful qualifications to take whilst working are:

• City & Guilds diplomas in professional cookery
• BTEC HND in professional cookery
• Health and safety and food hygiene certificates

If you wish to study full time and take a degree or HND in cookery or a food related subject it would be useful to take the following route:

GCSEs required
GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or above or equivalent. A science based subject would also be useful.

A-levels required
This will depend on the course you apply for but usually for a degree in hospitality you will need two good A-levels, and it helps if one of those is a science. Any relevant work experience is also useful as course applicants are usually interviewed.

Professional Body
The Institute of Hospitality are the professional body overseeing the hospitality market.
The Craft Guild of Chefs

How long will it take to get qualified?
This really depends on the route you take.

There are an estimated 255,000 chefs in the UK.

Typical day in the life of

The typical salary for a chef is from around £20,000 upwards - depending on your experience and reputation. You can expect a starting salary as a commis chef of around £13,000.

Useful websites
The Caterer www.caterer.com/careers-advice/job-profiles/head-or-executive-chef