How to Become a

Personal Chef

The complete career guide to be a Personal Chef: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $37,680
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 0.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Personal chefs work in households, preparing food for clients and their guests. Often, these clients are business executives or government officials who are entertaining a group of people. Personal chefs are required to prepare a variety of items, covering several courses of meals, and may take special requests.

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What is a Personal Chef?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in personal chef roles:

  • Prepare single- and multi-course meals for private parties and events
  • Acquire all ingredients needed for meals using an allocated budget
  • Serve food to clients and their guests, often describing the dishes when served
  • Clean up kitchen and dining area after meals
  • Store leftovers in marked containers for later use by client

A Day in the Life

Personal chefs are freelance chefs that offer their services to individuals hosting dinner parties, large gatherings, and other events. Often, a personal chef’s clients are high-level business executives or government officials who are entertaining guests as part of their work. While some personal chefs perform their role exclusively, others have full-time chef jobs in restaurants or other dining venues and work as personal chefs on the side to earn an additional income.

The process of working as a personal chef starts with discussing the menu needs and budget requirements with the client. Together, the personal chef and client form a menu and budget that meets the needs of the event. Then, the personal chef shops for all of the ingredients needed for the event. On the day of the event, the personal chef brings all of the ingredients to the kitchen of the location of the event and prepares one or many courses for the party.

The personal chef may employ servers, assistants, and cleaning staff to help orchestrate food service, or he/she may conduct those activities. Without help, the personal chef is responsible for serving prepared dishes to the client and guests, describing the dishes, and cleaning the table after courses and after meal completion. Additionally, the personal chef will need to clean the kitchen and all dishes used during the meal, and will need to package and label all leftovers for the client if requested.

Typical Work Schedule

There really is no set work schedule for personal chefs. Since most work on a freelance or contract basis, they’re able to set their own schedules and work as often or as infrequently as desired. Often, personal chefs end up working evening hours as many events will be dinner parties.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Line Cook, Short-Order Cook, Sous Chef
  • Mid-Career: Chef, Catering Chef
  • Late Career: Personal Chef, Private Chef, Head or Executive Chef

Typical Employers

Personal chefs are usually self-employed and work on a freelance or contract basis for clients. Some may also join membership groups or work with staffing agencies to ease the process of finding clients and receiving referrals.

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How To Become a Personal Chef

Most personal chefs work as chefs in restaurants or hotels before venturing out in the world of freelance cooking. Some may have no formal higher education. Instead, they start in entry-level kitchen positions and work their way up to chef roles. This process can take many years—even decades—before a cook is qualified to work as a chef or personal chef. Often, chefs that take this path start as dishwashers, move into prep cook or line cook roles, and advance from there into sous chef roles before qualifying for open chef positions. Then, after working as a chef for many years, become personal chefs.

Conversely, aspiring personal chefs may skip some number of years of working in entry-level positions and promotions by earning a culinary degree. Culinary degrees are typically two-year programs where aspiring chefs learn the basics of cooking and recipe creation. They learn about food handling and preparation safety, learn how to cook a variety of dishes and styles of food, and may even focus on a particular area of interest. With a culinary degree, chefs may be able to find work with little experience.

Though many personal chefs work for years in restaurants as chefs before venturing out as personal chefs, some begin their chef careers as personal chefs. However, this route may require a lot of talent, a large network of potential clients who will provide referrals, and/or an adept marketing ability.

Personal Chef Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Personal Chef salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Personal Chef's can make an average annual salary of $37,680, or $18 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $21,840 or $11 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #571 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Personal Chef. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Personal Chefs

  • 0.2%   Doctorate
  • 0.6%   Masters
  • 4.6%   Bachelors
  • 5.2%   Associates
  • 18.2%   College
  • 40.3%   High School
  • 30.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Personal Chef job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 300 jobs for a total of 36,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 0.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #582 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Personal Chefs

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 28,100 300 0%
Private households 5,100 100 0%
Crop production 900 --- ---

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