How to Become a

Sushi Chef

The complete career guide to be a Sushi 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

Sushi chefs prepare sushi rolls at Japanese restaurants, grocery stores, and other dining venues where sushi is served. They must know how to properly cut and store raw fish, how to make traditional Japanese sauces, and how to create both traditional sushi items and new, unique rolls.

Recommended Schools

What is a Sushi Chef?

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

  • Prepare sushi, sashimi, and rolls for customers
  • Design overall sushi menus, and create recipes for sushi found on venue menus
  • Create new and original rolls, and train employees on their preparation
  • Manage kitchen and/or sushi counter staff
  • Interact with customers ordering from a sushi bar rather than through a server

A Day in the Life

Sushi chefs work in a variety of dining venues. Most commonly, they’re found in Japanese restaurants, but they may also work for grocery stores, other Asian restaurants, and businesses that serve sushi offerings to employees in a cafeteria. Though the primary responsibility of a sushi chef is to prepare sushi for customers, he/she also has many administrative responsibilities.

Sushi chefs generally have a staff of sushi counter or kitchen employees they manage. They set the schedules for these employees, conduct on-the-job training, and teach employees safe food handling and preparation practices. Safe food handling procedures is even more critical in sushi establishments as many of the dishes served are uncooked.

Sushi chefs are also responsible for creating venue menus. The menus may be a mix of popular or traditional sushi, sashimi, and rolls as well as new, original recipes of the sushi chef’s design. In some restaurants, the sushi chef may also be accountable for overseeing hot menu offerings—tempura, teppanyaki, and soups—though some restaurants may have a secondary chef that oversees the hot menu and kitchen staff.

Typical Work Schedule

Most sushi chef jobs are full-time and worked during first and second shifts. As with all restaurant industry management jobs, overtime is common. Occasionally, a sushi chef may find a job that requires third-shift hours, but third shift is rare as most restaurants are closed overnight.

Projected Job Growth

Due to more frequent dining out as well as a growing popularity for sushi in the states, demand for sushi chefs is expected to increase over the coming decade.

Typical Employers

Most sushi chefs work for Japanese restaurants, but some may be employed by grocery stores, other Asian restaurants, and cafeterias or buffets that serve sushi.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Sushi Chef

There are a variety of ways to become a sushi chef. Those who are trained as sushi chefs in Japan are known as itamaes. They participate in an apprenticeship program that may take as long as 10 years, studying under a master itamae who teaches them sushi preparation techniques, knife and food handling best practices, and how to cook rice, among other skills.

However, Japanese sushi is very different than American sushi—American sushi is prepared differently and offers a much wider variety of rolls—and American sushi chefs are not required to undergo a decade-long apprenticeship to qualify for open roles. Many train on-the-job under an experienced sushi chef, and may become sushi chefs themselves with many years of experience. These individuals do not attend culinary school and often start in entry-level positions in restaurants and work their way up.

Others skip the long years of experience needed to pursue the former path and instead study sushi preparation as part of studying for a degree from a culinary school. Others complete culinary school and become chefs for other types of restaurants, but then take an additional training program focused on sushi preparation. With a degree from a culinary school, sushi chefs may be able to secure work in smaller and locally owned restaurants even without former experience.

Sushi 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

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High Range


How do Sushi Chef salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Sushi 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 Sushi Chef. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Sushi 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 Sushi 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 Sushi 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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