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Chef

Chefs are managers who plan, direct and participate in food preparation and cooking activities in restaurants, hotels, institutions and other food establishments.

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Executive Chefs (6241.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Chefs (G411) 
  • 2011 NOC: Chefs (6321) 
  • 2016 NOC: Chefs (6321) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Executive Chefs

2006 NOC: 6241.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising` the activities of sous-chefs, specialist chefs, chefs and cooks; and in recruiting and hiring staff

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to ensure food meets quality standards; may prepare and cook food on a regular basis or for special guests or functions

INNOVATIVE

Interest in planning menus

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated May 17, 2021

Chefs' duties and responsibilities vary from one organization to another but, in general, they:

  • Supervise cooks and other kitchen staff in the preparation, cooking and presentation of food
  • Order food and kitchen supplies based on quality, best price and budget
  • Check orders received for quantity and quality of product
  • Create new recipes to please customers
  • Create menus
  • Estimate kitchen labour and food costs, and modify menus to optimize profitability
  • Check the quality of raw and cooked food products, and presentation
  • Ensure that sanitation and occupational safety standards are maintained
  • Assist with staff development and training
  • Meet with other managers in the organization
  • Promote their establishments by practicing good public relations

There is an established hierarchy of chefs within a kitchen, known as the Brigade system, to increase how effectively a kitchen is run. The levels are:

  • Executive chef is at the top of the kitchen management structure. They usually only exist in larger organizations, and manage the “big picture” tasks of running multiple locations
  • Head chef controls the whole kitchen at a particular location. All kitchen staff at the location are managed by the head chef
  • Sous chef (second chef) is more hands-on in the kitchen area, and ensures the directions of the head chef are carried out by the rest of the kitchen crew. Smaller kitchens may not have a sous chef, while larger ones may have more than one
  • Chef de partie (line or station chefs) run a specific part (station) of the kitchen operation, such as salads, fryers, or grill

Where a number of chefs work for the same employer, they usually specialize in preparing particular types of foods. For example, they may be:

  • chefs saucier (sauce chefs) who prepare, season and cook meat and fish items and accompanying sauces, as well as soups, casseroles and related dishes
  • chefs garde manger (pantry chefs) who prepare and present salads, cold dishes and cold hors d'oeuvres and buffets
  • chefs entremetier (vegetable chefs) who prepare, cook and present vegetables, pasta and egg dishes
  • chefs patissier (pastry chefs) who prepare, cook and present desserts and pastries and may also prepare ice creams and sherbets

The smaller the kitchen operation, the more these roles will be combined and the fewer chefs will be present. Some food establishments may only employ one or two chefs, and their duties may even include bringing the meals out to the customers.

Working Conditions
Updated May 17, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Working conditions for chefs vary with the type of organization. Large establishments may have modern equipment, well-lighted work areas and air conditioning. Older and smaller establishments may not be as well equipped.

Chefs frequently work in close quarters that can be very noisy, especially during busy periods. They must stand for hours at a time and work near hot ovens and grills. Some lifting up to 20 kilograms routinely is required. Some food establishments may have the kitchen area hidden from customer view, while others may have it visible, or even featured as a central focus of the establishment, as a form of entertainment.

Work hours vary depending on the type and size of the establishment. Prep work can begin in the early morning, and kitchens may be required to remain open until late evening after last call at liquor-serving establishments. Large establishments that are open 24 hours a day typically have 2 to 3 shifts a day. Holiday, weekend work and overtime is common.

Traits & Skills
Updated May 17, 2021

Chefs need:

  • A genuine love of food and cuisine
  • Artistic and creative talent
  • Good health and stamina
  • A keen sense of taste and smell
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Strong math skills
  • A memory for details
  • Communication skills, interpersonal skills and team-building skills
  • The ability to remain calm in hectic circumstances
  • Organizational skills

They should enjoy planning and organizing menus and methods, supervising the work of others, and using tools and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Chefs

2011 NOC: 6321

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 100 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Jul 17, 2022 and Sep 25, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Attention to detail
Tasks: Prepare and cook food on a regular basis, or for special guests or functions
Tasks: Train staff in preparation, cooking and handling of food
Work under pressure
Tasks: Prepare and cook meals or specialty foods
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Tasks: Prepare dishes for customers with food allergies or intolerances
Educational Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Almost all chefs have some technical qualification obtained through apprenticeship training or related post-secondary education.

Alberta has a formal apprenticeship program for cooks (for more information, see the Cook occupational profile).

In Alberta, food safety courses are offered by:

For a listing of approved food safety training options, check Alberta Health's Recognized food safety courses in Alberta list [pdf] or contact 780-427-7164.

The Government of Alberta awards a Food Sanitation and Hygiene Certification to those who complete approved training and achieve at least 70% on a provincial exam. Food facilities generally must employ at least 1 person who is certified. Where 6 or more people are working on site, at least 1 person present must be certified. Where fewer people are working on site, the certified person may be absent.

In addition to technical training, chefs usually require 3 to 6 years of experience in commercial food preparation. Some chefs work internationally to build their resume in foreign cuisines or to gain experience with a celebrity chef in major cities around the world.

The Canadian Culinary Institute (CCI) under the authority of the Canadian Culinary Federation, and in partnership with various learning schools, offers continuing education programs leading to the designation of Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) or the Certified Master Chef (CMC).

Applicants to the CCC program must have:

  • Valid Canadian Red Seal certification, or international equivalent
  • A current resume with at least 2 letters from employers confirming employment
  • 5 years of documented post-Red Seal certification employment, including at least 2 years in a supervisory role
  • A current valid Food Safe Handlers certification from a recognized accredited source

Applicants to the CMC program must have:

  • Valid Canadian Red Seal certification, or international equivalent
  • At least 8 years of post-Red Seal certification employment, with at least 5 years in a supervisory role
  • A CCC designation from CCI, or international equivalent
  • Minimum 3 years post-CCC certification experience in an executive-level position
  • A current valid Food Safe Handlers certification from a recognized accredited source
  • HACCAP (Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points System) Levels 1 and 2
  • A current resume with work experience highlighted from the previous 8 years
  • A letter from the applicant describing why they seek the CMC designation
  • A signed letter of support from their employer

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Portage College
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

However, the Canadian Culinary Institute offers optional certification programs, as described under Related Education.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 17, 2021

Most chefs are employed in privately owned restaurants or hotels, but some are employed by:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and personal care facilities
  • Civic and social organizations
  • Catering companies
  • Railway or cruise lines
  • Resorts

As chefs gain experience, they may advance from being line chefs to sous chef and executive chef positions, or purchase and manage their own establishments. Opportunities for advancement depend largely on acquiring better cooking and management skills. Graduates of technical or apprenticeship programs tend to advance more quickly than those who lack formal qualifications.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 6321: Chefs occupational group, 81.7% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 6321: Chefs occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 134 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 17, 2021

Salaries for chefs vary a great deal depending on the size and location of the establishment, volume of business and the chef's reputation.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chefs

2016 NOC: 6321
Average Wage
$22.92
Per Hour
Average Salary
$44,600.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.4
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 6321 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $28.85 $20.53 $19.00
Overall $15.50 $32.69 $22.92 $21.63
Top $16.00 $39.90 $25.91 $24.26

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Accommodation & Food Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
48%
48%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
45%
45%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
7%
7%
Vacancy Rate
4%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 17, 2021

Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals website: cafp.ca

Canadian Culinary Federation website: www.culinaryfederation.ca

Canadian Culinary Institute website: www.canadianculinaryinstitute.ca/index.html

National Restaurant Association [United States] website: restaurant.org

Restaurants Canada website: www.restaurantscanada.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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