How to Become a

Sous Chef

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

Why We Love It

  • $45,920
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They assist a chef by helping with food orders, managing kitchen staff, creating staff schedules, assisting with recipe and menu creation, and ensuring the kitchen adheres to all health and safety guidelines. Sous chefs also run the kitchen when the chef is not working.

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What is a Sous Chef?

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

  • Ensure all food is dated, unexpired, and fresh before used to prepare food
  • Assist the chef in placing food orders
  • Manage kitchen staff—including cooks and dishwashers—and create schedules for staff members
  • Cook during busy shifts or assist cooks by working as expeditor to assist with workflow
  • Ensure proper health and safety regulations are followed to prevent foodborne illness and avoid health department citations

A Day in the Life

Sous chefs are second-in-command of a kitchen. They essentially assist chefs with all day-to-day responsibilities, and they assume the role of chef when the chef is not working on not on property. Sous chefs are busy individuals with a lot of varied responsibilities. They perform administrative tasks such as ordering food and creating staff schedules, they may cook or expedite in the kitchen, and they also manage back-of-house staff members during shifts.

Depending on the type of chef a sous chef works for, they may also be allowed to assist with traditional chef responsibilities like designing recipes, determining food placement on plates, creating menus, and choosing ingredients. While the chef will create a larger part of menus and recipes, the sous chef may be allowed to add a few of his/her own ideas and inventions during recipe and menu creation periods. The sous chef may also be in charge of training employees how to prepare and cook new menu items.

In addition to other responsibilities, the sous chef must help ensure the kitchen is clean, safe, and adheres to all important health regulations. The sous chef monitors employees as they prepare food to ensure proper handling procedures are followed, and may train new employees on food safety topics. The sous chef also checks storage areas to ensure all food is dated, fresh, and stored properly. Finally, he/she may also be accountable for periodically checking for adherence to health department rules.

Typical Work Schedule

Most sous chef roles are full-time, and overtime is common. Sous chefs may need to work a variety of different shifts to accommodate the restaurant’s open hours and meal times, as well as the chef’s time-off schedule.

Projected Job Growth

Because of the increased popularity of dining out among the general public, the demand for sous chefs is expected to grow in the coming decade.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Line Cook, Prep Cook, Short-Order Cook
  • Mid-Career: Sous Chef, Chef
  • Late Career: Head Chef, Executive Chef

Typical Employers

Sous chefs are most commonly hired to work in busy full-service restaurants, though they may also be able to find work for cafeterias, catering companies, and other non-restaurant food service venues.

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How To Become a Sous Chef

While many sous chefs hold culinary degrees, it’s not an absolute requirement to have postsecondary education credentials to work as a sous chef. In smaller and/or locally owned restaurants, sous chefs may be able to simply work their way up to the position. Often, they start as dishwashers and/or bussers, move into prep cook, line cook, and short-order cook roles, and mid-career may qualify for sous chef positions. Often, the move to a sous chef role has to do with talent and reputation at a restaurant.

For individuals who want to skip a few rungs when climbing the cooking ladder, a culinary degree could help accelerate your career as a sous chef. Most culinary degrees are two-year programs where students work in kitchens and learn advanced information about recipe creation, multiple types of food preparation, and food and cooking tool safety. With a culinary degree, individuals may be able to move directly into senior-level cook positions—and potentially even sous chef positions—right out of college.

Culinary degrees are also advantageous for individuals who want to later move into chef, head chef, and executive chef roles. While it’s possible to become any of these executive-level chefs without a degree, most higher-paying chef roles will have a culinary degree as a prerequisite for the position.

Sous 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 Sous Chef salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Sous Chef's can make an average annual salary of $45,920, or $22 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $30,840 or $15 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #441 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

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

Highest Education Among Sous Chefs

  • 0.4%   Doctorate
  • 1.2%   Masters
  • 12.3%   Bachelors
  • 16.9%   Associates
  • 22.5%   College
  • 29.2%   High School
  • 17.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Sous Chef job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 11,300 jobs for a total of 138,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #247 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Sous Chefs

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Full-service restaurants 57,500 2,500 2%
Special food services 13,400 2,000 2%
Self-employed workers 6,300 --- 0%

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