The term Red Seal chef is a Canadian term that implies the chef is an expert because he has earned the Red Seal accreditation by demonstrating superior skills and knowledge as a chef and passing a national exam. While the title is Canadian, Red Seal chefs can also work as chefs in the U.S. or other countries. Red Seal chefs are classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics under the broader career category of chefs. Salaries for chefs vary by restaurant or employer, as well as experience and reputation. Some chefs receive formal training, some learn by experience and some have both.
Basic Salary Information
Chefs earned a median salary of $38,770 in 2008, according to the BLS. The lowest paid 10 percent earned $22,120 or less, while the highest paid 10 percent earned $66,680 or more. The middle half of chefs earned between $29,050 and $51,540.
Salary by Industry
According to the BLS, chefs working in the other amusement and recreation industries earned a median salary of $45,650 in 2008, while chefs in the special food services industry earned a median salary of $40,890. Chefs in the traveler accommodation industry earned a median salary of $44,660, while chefs in the full-service restaurants industry earned a median salary of $36,700. Chefs in the limited-service eating places industry earned a median salary of $30,060.
According to the BLS, about 50,000 chefs and head cooks were working in 2007. In addition to their salaries, chefs also sometimes earn financial bonuses based on performance and restaurant revenue. Also, chefs sometimes receive additional benefits from employers, such as health and life insurance, 401(k) retirement savings plans and paid time off for vacation or sick leave.
According to the BLS, Red Seal chefs and chefs in general do not have a good job outlook. The BLS expects zero growth in job opportunities and salaries for chefs between 2008 and 2018. Working chefs will need to stand out amid the competition with signature dishes and an impressive resume of training and work experience.
2016 Salary Information for Chefs and Head Cooks
Chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $43,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, chefs and head cooks earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $59,080, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 146,500 people were employed in the U.S. as chefs and head cooks.