What is the Employment Outlook for Culinary Jobs in Pennsylvania?

With the popularity of TV cooking shows like Chopped, the interest in Culinary Jobs in Pennsylvania and other areas has skyrocketed. This isn’t strange; there was a similar interest spike in law enforcement jobs when Law and Order debuted. Of course, everyone can’t become a detective, and neither can everyone looking into a culinary arts career become a chef, but there are plenty of good jobs in the industry. In general, from counter people at McDonalds to restaurant owners, the job outlook for culinary workers is rosy.

The General Culinary Job Forecast

The restaurant industry as a whole is enjoying a spike in job demand. This is a change from 2004 when there was a decrease in restaurant and other culinary jobs. By 2018 there are expected to be 17,980 new jobs created in the field each year. Most of these jobs are as cooks and in food service. The restaurant industry is the second-largest private sector employer in the United States. According to the National Restaurant Association it employs one out of ten Americans. In addition, more than half of American adults have worked in the industry at one time. Competition is high: there are over 118,000 chefs and 874,000 food preparation workers.

Pennsylvania Demand for Culinary Workers

The greatest need in Pennsylvania is for line cooks, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Line cooks are different from chefs. They are hourly workers who take directions from chefs or sous chefs. These workers begin at minimum wage and can earn as much as $16 an hour or more as they gain experience. That experience is the key. Restaurant owners want people who can step onto the cook line and fit in seamlessly.

Demand has forced many restaurants to pay higher-than-average wages and some chefs even share cooks, with the sought-after workers putting in a shift at one restaurant and then going to another.

Part of the dearth of culinary workers can be explained by the closing of the Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in 2011. New schools are opening, but employers want experienced cooks, not recent graduates. That means people may have to begin at a lower-paying job, but 80 percent of restaurant owners in the US began as hourly workers. That does not mean skipping formal education. Culinary schools teach the basics of cooking, which everyone in the industry’s kitchen-based jobs must know. Cooks can also learn from being mentored. No matter how they learn, Pennsylvania needs them. On the average there are twenty new restaurants opening in the state each month.

Average Wage in Pennsylvania

The US average salary for a chef or head cook is $41,500 per year. In Pennsylvania, where there is a heavy demand, that salary averages $47,530 to $60,820. US average pay for line cooks is $10.44 an hour, but in Pennsylvania they earn $11.43 an hour. The metropolitan areas employ the most culinary workers, but that is changing, there is a movement toward smaller cities where there is an abundance of local ingredients and a lower cost of living.

There are states with a higher demand for culinary professionals than Pennsylvania, but the state has one of the higher needs. Although the culinary industry includes counter persons, wait staff, managers, restaurant owners and employees, workers who want higher-paid careers in the industry need an education. There are not as many mentors as there are cooks and chefs who want to be mentored, and the obvious answer is to begin with culinary school. Everyone may not become a chef, but there are many available Culinary Jobs in Pennsylvania.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Pennsylvania 2016