How Much Does an Apprentice Chef Make? (With Duties and FAQ)

Updated 7 May 2023

Many professionals pursue apprenticeship opportunities to learn valuable industry skills, gain experience and network with industry professionals. Pursuing a chef apprenticeship can help you understand more about the food service industry and learn more about important food preparation skills. Understanding more about salary expectations with this type of apprenticeship can help you determine if this career path is the right choice for you.

In this article, we answer ‘How much does an apprentice chef make?’, explore how to increase your earning potential, review common apprenticeship duties and examine several frequently asked questions to help you determine if this apprentice program is the right choice for you.

How much does an apprentice chef make?

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

When answering ‘How much does an apprentice chef make?’, it's important to understand that apprentice chefs can expect to earn wages while they're learning about essential culinary skills. Wages can vary based on the apprentice's experience, education, employer and location. Here's a more detailed look into how much apprentices can expect to earn in the culinary field:

1st-year apprentice chef wages

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

While Indeed doesn't report on every apprenticeship speciality, it does report a national average salary of $49,831 per year. Apprentice salaries vary by location and comparing these salary details can help aspiring chefs find positions that can help them learn essential chef skills while also helping them support their lifestyle. For example, an apprentice might earn a national average salary of $55,426 in Carins, QLD or an national average salary of $46,605 in Newcastle, NSW.

Related: How to Become a Chef (With Common Duties, Skills and FAQs)

2nd-year apprentice chef wages

Individuals who've completed more of their culinary training might earn a higher average base salary based on their performance, skills and culinary knowledge. This might result in them earning a salary more aligned to a chef's average salary. According to Indeed Salaries, the national average salary for a chef is $61,205 per year. This salary information can change based on the restaurant or location. For example, a chef might earn a national average salary of $88,181 per year in Perth WA or a national average salary of $59,646 per year in Parramatta NSW.

Related: 6 of the Highest-Paid Apprenticeships (With Duties)

How can you make more as an apprentice chef?

Here are some methods you can follow to help you improve your earning potential as an apprentice chef:

Expand your skill set

Learning a variety of other chef skills, including sous chef skills, can help you improve your culinary knowledge. These skills can also help professionals pursue higher earning opportunities or negotiate higher-paying apprenticeship contracts. Developing additional skills by observing other chefs in the workplace, attending culinary courses or practising at home can help you learn new skills and techniques.

Related: How to Become an Executive Chef (With Job Description)

Pursue additional education

Completing culinary courses or degree programs can help you increase your earning potential. This can also help you learn niche skill sets in the culinary profession. You might consider classes that focus on knife skills, food safety or other basic culinary skills to help you understand more about foundational chef skills. Some degree programs you might consider include:

  • hospitality management

  • tourism, travel and hospitality

  • pastry cookery

  • commercial cookery.

Related: How to Become a Hospitality Manager: With Skills and Salary

Gain more experience in the hospitality industry

Gaining experience in the hospitality industry can also help you learn important customer service, time management or other customer-related skills. These skills can help you interact with customers, servers and other personnel. Some other roles you might consider to help improve your earning potential as an apprentice chef include:

  • kitchen hand

  • dishwasher

  • waitstaff.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

Complete certification programs

Certifications can help potential employers understand your specific skills. You can focus your effort and energy on learning niche skills when gaining certifications. Courses vary in length and program requirements, so it's important to research programs to help you find the course that aligns with your lifestyle and skills. Some certifications you might consider include:

  • patisserie baker

  • retail baking

  • Chef de Cuisine certification.

Reasons to complete a chef apprenticeship

Here are some reasons why you might consider pursuing a chef apprenticeship:

  • No experience required: Many apprenticeships only require a high school certificate or Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, which enables you to pursue these opportunities with no experience. Many apprenticeship programs teach you foundational culinary skills as you complete daily tasks.

  • Learn valuable skills: Programs teach aspiring chefs basic and more advanced culinary skills. This can help you improve your chef capabilities and help you pursue different culinary roles.

  • Network with culinary professionals: Working alongside many other culinary professionals provides you with opportunities to form professional connections with chefs and other individuals in the culinary industry. This can help you find employment opportunities after completing your apprenticeship program.

  • Save on educational expenses: Since apprenticeship programs often provide a salary or hourly wage to professionals, these programs can help you save money versus formal educational programs. This allows you to learn skills that many individuals learn during formal education programs and earn an income.

  • Career progression: Completing an apprenticeship program can help you quickly find employment opportunities with the company offering the apprenticeship. This enables you to become familiar with the location's expectations, requirements and skills, which allows you to develop these skills and become an ideal candidate for open culinary positions.

Duties for apprentice chefs

There are many regular tasks that apprentices complete to hone their food preparation abilities. Common duties for these professionals include:

  • monitoring food inventory

  • washing kitchen dishes

  • overseeing food preparation procedures

  • storing food supplies

  • maintaining clean kitchens

  • portioning food items

  • conforming to food hygiene standards.

Frequently asked questions about chef apprenticeship programs

Here are some frequently asked questions about becoming an apprentice chef to consider to help you determine if this career path is the right choice for you:

How long are apprenticeship programs?

Many apprenticeship programs take three years to complete and may vary based on your chosen specialty and scheduled hours. This commonly involves four days working in the kitchen and one day a week attending classes. Some programs might offer scheduling flexibility, which can help you fit this program into your current lifestyle. Upon completion of these programs, you can earn a Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery, which can help employers fully understand your capabilities as a chef.

How can you find chef apprentice programs?

Searching job boards, contacting apprenticeship agencies or communicating with certain food service locations can help you find apprenticeship programs. Networking with culinary professionals also allows you to discover in-demand programs and learn about open apprenticeship opportunities. Contacting an Apprenticeship Network provider can also help you quickly learn about new apprenticeship opportunities. Exploring reviews about apprenticeship programs can also help you find reputable and enjoyable classes that align with your professional goals.

What are some of the skills you learn as an apprentice?

Apprenticeship programs often start with culinary basics and move on to more advanced skill sets. Some common items taught in all chef apprenticeship programs include food safety, nutrition and proper hygiene procedures. Skills vary between different programs and might include courses that teach food preparation, baking, catering, beverage preparation and meat processing. Some other skills learned during these programs include:

  • customer service

  • attention to detail

  • ability to manage stress

  • time management

  • communication.

Related: 12 Hospitality Skills: Examples and Ways to Highlight Them

What is the job outlook for chefs?

Labour Market Insights estimate a future growth rating of 19.4%. This equates to approximately 18,300 new jobs in the chef or culinary industry over the next five years. Professionals expect the majority of these positions to open in the accommodation and food service industries. Other positions may open in the health care and social assistance industries with chefs preparing healthy food items for patients, health care team members or other individuals.

What tools do I need to become an apprentice chef?

While some programs provide tools for you to use during the course of your apprenticeship, it's a good idea to purchase your own chef tools. This can help you become familiar with the tools you prefer in the kitchen. Some common tools you might consider pursuing before or during your program include:

  • chef's knives

  • comfortable shoes

  • chef whites

  • school books.

Researching what items your employer might provide can help you further understand more about what you might need for your apprenticeship. Contacting program leads or collaborating with other apprentices can help you learn more about your program and what tools they might provide. This can also help you find tools that align with the employer's requirements because some employers have specific uniform specifications.

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