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Chef

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Summary of occupation

A chef prepares, cooks, arranges and presents food that is served in dining establishments such as restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafeterias, aeroplanes, cruise ships and work camps. Chefs that work in large establishments may specialise in a particular cuisine, such as Japanese or Thai.

A chef is also responsible for managing kitchen operations, purchasing foodstuffs, and keeping the kitchen clean and hygienic. Other responsibilities include receiving and storing provisions, planning menus, and training and supervising other staff.

ANZSCO description: Plans and organises the preparation and cooking of food in a dining or catering establishment.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Chef de Cusine, Chef de Partie, Commis Chef, Demi Chef, Head Chef, Second Chef, Sous Chef
Job prospects: Good
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A chef needs:

  • an enjoyment and appreciation for cooking
  • high standards of personal hygiene
  • a commitment to safe work practices
  • an awareness of nutritional information and eating trends
  • good stress management, with an ability to work quickly and efficiently under pressure
  • physical fitness to stay on their feet for long periods of time
  • the flexibility to work shifts, evenings, weekends and irregular hours.
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Working conditions

Often a chef is expected to work long hours and weekends, in sometimes hot and humid conditions. Evening and weekend work can interfere with personal commitments and shift work can be tiring. Cuts and burns are common injuries for chefs as they work with sharp knives and hot appliances.

A chef can also expect to change employers often, in order to gain more experience or to be promoted.

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Salary details

On average, chefs can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a chef develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.​

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Tools and technologies

Depending on the type of restaurant, a chef may be expected to use a range of cooking appliances and utensils. They will also be required to adhere to strict hygiene standards, and this may require the use of hair nets or hats. Their work is generally indoors in dining establishments, but in some circumstances, such as working in the armed forces, they may work in the 'field,' using a mobile kitchen.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a chef, you usually have to complete a chef apprenticeship. The apprenticeship usually takes 36 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship. 

You can also become a chef by completing a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery. The course is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.​ ​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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