How a Chef Apprenticeship Can Benefit Your Careerby Hania Syed
Do you dream of working as a professional chef? To start your journey on this exciting career path, which may see you working in restaurants, cafes, food trucks and more, it’s best to complete an Australian apprenticeship.
Whether you dream of working at a Michelin-star restaurant, setting up your own trendy cafe or working in any other culinary capacity, taking on a chef apprenticeship will be an incredible stepping stone towards a rewarding career as a skilled chef.
What Qualifications Do I Need to be a Chef?
While specific qualifications aren’t necessary to be a chef (with legends such as Heston Blumenthal being completely self-taught), it’s smart to complete an apprenticeship and gain a vocational qualification as the culinary arts are a trades-based profession in Australia.
In fact, what distinguishes a chef from a cook is the professional qualifications that need to be obtained. Chefs are tasked with innovating in the kitchen, with training being key for a successful career as a professional chef. This means you’ll need a mix of formal education and on-the-job training. A chef apprenticeship is the perfect solution, combining a work placement with theoretical learning.
What To Expect In Your Chef Apprenticeship
As an apprentice chef, you’ll be placed in a training contract with an employer who will equip you with the skills needed for your trade. You will typically spend four days a week with your employer over a three-year period, developing valuable work experience.
For the remainder of the time (typically one day a week), you will undergo formal studies at a vocational education and training institution or perhaps a culinary arts school.
Thanks to your chef apprenticeship, you’ll build knowledge and skills, gain nationally recognised qualifications, and be able to earn while you learn. As a benchmark, a first year apprentice who is under 21 years of age and working full-time can expect to earn $11.34 per hour ($430.82 a week) under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 (MA000119). You’ll also be able to enjoy penalties for working on weekends, public holidays, late at night and early in the morning, which there is certainly a lot of in the hospitality industry.
To kickstart your training, you may wish to consider a Certificate III or Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery, a Certificate III or IV in Patisserie or a Certificate IV in Hospitality course at a registered training organisation to kickstart your chef apprenticeship.
Your chef apprenticeship and qualification will take you far in your career, helping you secure a job upon completing your training or even work internationally as a qualified chef.
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Chef Salaries and Career Progression
Upon completion of their training, chefs are able to specialise in a particular type of cooking. Some popular career paths including becoming a personal chef, hotel chef, restaurant chef, catering chef or a private chef for a corporate client. Depending on the restaurant, speciality chef roles might exist to focus on particular parts of the menu, such as sauciers (sauces), poissonniers (fish), rôtisseurs (roast meats), entremetteurs (vegetables), entremetteurs (vegetables) and pâtissier (pastries and desserts).
The potential for career progression is strong, with the typical kitchen hierarchy from bottom to top being:
- Station Chefs – Also called line cooks or chefs de partie, station chefs are in charge of specific food preparation duties. There will typically be several station chefs within a restaurant. According to PayScale, station chefs earn between $36,916–$57,885
- Sous Chef – The sous chef is the head chef’s assistant, often having direct oversight of the kitchen staff. According to PayScale, sous chefs typically earn $42,638–$64,184
- Head/Executive Chef – The head or executive chef runs the kitchen, creates the menu and oversees all the other staff. According to PayScale, head chefs earn between $45,120–$77,122 and executive chefs earn between $48,246–$108,804
Job Prospects for Chefs
A career as a chef has strong job prospects, with a 2015 report by Deloitte Access Economics indicating that 38,000 more chefs will be needed in Australia before 2020. Further, Seek has predicted a 16.7% projected job growth over the next 5 years.
Many chefs eventually decide to start their own restaurant or cafe, which means a business qualification might also come in handy later down the track.
Your culinary journey starts here
Start your journey towards an exciting career as a chef by commencing your chef apprenticeship – browse our culinary arts certificates today!
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