Pros and Cons of Being a Chef: Is It the Dream Career?

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Does the thought of being a professional chef excite you? A career as a chef is demanding and exciting. You’ll meet thousands of people every year, and you have the opportunity to make a name for yourself as a culinary genius like Rachel Ray or Paula Deen.

However, a career as a chef isn’t for everyone. You need a strong personality, leadership skills, and the ability to think on your feet if you want to run a kitchen.

This post looks at the pros and cons of being a chef. It’s a good idea to understand what you’re getting yourself into before committing to it as a career.

What are the Pros and Cons of Being a Chef?

The pros and cons of culinary arts vary. What some people think is a drawback of becoming a chef, others might see as an advantage.

However, there is a skillset and mindset that’s common across all successful chefs. Chefs are highly-trained and skilled individuals in the culinary arts.

They also have a complete understanding of how to run a kitchen. Chefs need skills in kitchen and staff management as much as they need them to prepare food.

Chefs also have independent and creative personalities. It’s not uncommon to see experienced chefs start a restaurant since they already have many of the required entrepreneurship skills to build a successful business.

There is a massive demand for skilled chefs, and you shouldn’t find it hard to get a job if you have talent and experience.

So, what are the advantages of being a chef?

Discover and Express Your Creativity with Food

Being a chef allows you to experiment with food and recipes to create your style in the kitchen. Chefs love to innovate, and they have the perfect job to create anything they want.

Top Chefs Get Excellent Salaries

Chefs working in 5-Star hotels, sporting complexes, resorts, and high-end restaurants earn excellent salaries. Celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio make millions of dollars every year for doing something they love.

Global Job Opportunities

There is a massive demand globally for skilled chefs. Let your talents take you to any country you want.

Become a Business Owner

Chefs manage every aspect of operating a kitchen. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find them open a restaurant themselves after gaining enough business experience.

Most chefs have independent and creative personalities. That’s the ideal foundation for any entrepreneur to build their business skills. Combined with a passion for their work, the best chefs end up running profitable businesses.

What are the Cons of a Career as a Chef?

Long Hours

Chefs work 18 to 22-hour days frequently, and they’re away from family and friends for weeks on end. As a chef, the priority in your life is your kitchen.

Low Salary Until You Reach Chef Status

When you’re training, you can expect low pay and poor treatment at the hands of your superiors; it’s just part of learning. This training period could last for years or even decades in some cases.

Challenging Working Conditions

The kitchen is a hot, congested place. You’ll need to be comfortable with working around other people and under pressure.

When the lunch rush arrives, you need to handle the order flow and coordinate your team to ensure all the orders get out on time.

It’s a Mentally and Physically Demanding Career

Training to be a chef is challenging and demanding on your mental health and your physical well-being. Even when you make it as a chef, you’ll still be working long hours every day.

You’ll also be standing on your feet for hours at a time, and you might find yourself running short on sleep during the busy season.

What are the Pros and Cons of Being a Pastry Chef?

A pastry chef specializes in creating desserts. Typically, bakers move on in their careers to become pastry chefs. It’s a rewarding career with all the same pros and cons of being a conventional chef.

However, pastry chefs typically spend longer on creating each dish than conventional chefs. They also need to understand all the other aspects of kitchen management, such as food preparation and resourcing ingredients.

Can You Make a Good Living as a Chef?

Career opportunities for chefs vary from state-to-state. According to information on chef earnings, Hawaii offers chef opportunities with the highest salaries, and Ohio the lowest. The median chef salary in Hawaii is $67,054, whereas the median salary in Ohio is $32,014.

Here’s the breakdown.


  • Average Annual Salary: $67,055
  • Lowest 10% of earners: $53,000
  • Highest 10% of earners: $84,000


  • Average Annual Salary: $32,015
  • Lowest 10% of earners: $20,000
  • Highest 10% of earners: $50,000

As you can see from the stats, location plays a significant role in your salary. It’s worth noting that the highest 10% of earners in Ohio only earn the lowest chef salary in a state like Hawaii.

However, it’s a game of give-and-take. Hawaii has the highest living cost of any US state, and those costs come out of your income.

When you decide to put down roots and start a career with an employer or open a restaurant, consider your quality of life. Make sure you do so in a state that’s beneficial to your lifestyle and your career’s profitability.

Is Being a Chef Worth It? 

Becoming a chef is a career led by a passion for food and people. Chefs are highly intelligent and sociable; they are adept at reading people and understanding how teams work.

Above all, a chef is a natural leader. They understand the importance of coordinating resources in the kitchen to create a holistic effect.

While chefs are notorious for being hard-lined disciplinarians, they also have respect for their peers and employees.

Becoming a chef means that you work long hours. However, when you’re working with your passion, the hours fly by each day.

A career as a chef is demanding, but it is rewarding. If you manage to create a reputation for yourself in the industry, you could end up as the next Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver – Good luck!


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