Career Change - How to retrain as a chef

Career Change - How to retrain as a chef

Are you looking to find a job that aligns more with your passion? Do you think you have what it takes to be a chef? Whether you are looking to find a job in a restaurant, a hotel, or even a care there are plenty of reasons why making a career change to become a chef is a great idea!

In this article we explain how to retrain as a chef and offer some practical steps to help you get started.

Why Would you want to become a Chef?

Most people who decide to seek out a career as a chef do so because they’re passionate about food, and they enjoy cooking for other people and if this sounds like you, then retraining as a chef could be right up your alley.

If you are willing to put the effort into your chef training, you have talent, and you aren’t afraid of hard work, then being a chef could be a highly rewarding and exciting career to get into. If you are still on the fence then here are five reasons why people decide to find a job as a chef.

Here's a quick video clip that outlines what it's like to work as a chef.

1 - Different Working Environments

People love eating out for food of all kinds, from a friendly café to a bustling bistro, a hotel, a bakery, a restaurant, or a catering company. There are so many different types of chef jobs to choose from, and you have the ability to carve your own path.

2 - There's lots of opportunities for progression

If you decide to retrain as a chef, then you can look forward to climbing a new career ladder that brimming with fresh opportunities. From Commis Chef, Demi Chef, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine, and eventually, Executive Chef, or you might decide to go it alone and set-up your own company.

3 - You can be a specialist

If you want, you can truly become a master of your own destiny. Again, there are lots of chances to follow your passion. Be it baking, Italian, Mexican, desserts, or whatever you fancy.

4 - You can unleash your creativity

Whatever type of job you’re doing right now, ask yourself this; do you have the ability to unleash your creative freedom? Are you able to think and create at-will? As a chef, you’ll probably need to follow a strict menu while you’re starting out at a new chef job, but after that’s done, you can further your skills while having fun with your creative self.

5 - Chef's make people happy

They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach; as a chef, you get to make a special event just that little more magical, you get to help make a family meal out more enjoyable and bring pleasure to all who you come to your establishment to sample your creations.Aside from this, being a chef can be incredibly exciting; you get to work alone while being part of a team, and you will be challenged and pushed to new limits every day.

How to retrain and become a chef

There are lots of routes to becoming a chef, and even if your current day job is a million miles away from where you want to be, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

For the sake of clarity, we will explore four different routes to help you become a chef.

How do you qualify to be a chef?

There are four main ways you can retrain to be a chef. Bear in mind, not all of these will be relevant to your individual situation, and not all will work for you. However, if you really want to retrain to become a chef, you’ll need to find a way to accommodate one of these routes.

  1. Take a college Course
  2. Take a university course
  3. Practical hands-on experience
  4. Complete an apprenticeship

In the next section, we’ll break down what each entails, and what the requirements are for each option. The information has been taken from the .gov website.

To make sure we look after our Scottish readers at home, we’ve also added more information about how you can train to be a chef below.

Getting In

Please note, that while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this data, the below information is subject to change at any time, and it’s always a good idea to double-check the latest guidelines directly with any educational institution you are looking to join.


Required Qualifications in Scotland

If you want to retrain as a chef in Scotland, there aren’t any formal qualifications needed to enter into employment. However, some employers might state on a job requirements section they prefer SCQF levels 4/5 or for a candidate to have some level of practical work-based experience and/or qualifications.
  1. A few relevant examples would be:
  1. Scottish Vocational Qualifications in food prep and cooking - SVQ Level 1
  2. Professional Cookery - SVQ level 2-3

Another entry-route into a career as a chef is through a Modern Apprentice in Hospitality.

Although you can gain entry onto National Qualification or Progression Award Courses without having any formal qualifications, many do insist that you have National 4/5 qualifications – SCQF Level 4/5. In some cases, they will accept practical experience in lieu of a qualification, so it’s always worth having a direct conversation with the institution about your intended course of study and career path.

Take a college course

One route to becoming a chef is to do a college course. This could be a qualification such as,

  1. Level 3 Diploma in Professional cookery
  2. Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary arts

If you want to apply to train as a chef in college, you’ll typically need to meet a few basic entry requirements.

  1. For a Level 3 course, this is usually 4-5 GCSEs at A-C or 9-4
  2. For a level 4 course, this is usually 1-2 A-levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience

If this could be a route you’re interested in, you can search for relevant courses here

Take a University Course

This is another option that you can choose if your circumstances permit. Studying for a Foundation Degree, a Culinary Arts, or a Professional Cookery Degree is one route, or you could work toward a higher national diploma.

If you want to apply to train as a chef at University, you’ll typically need to meet a few basic entry requirements.

  1. ·For an HND or Foundation Degree, you’ll need 1-2 A-levels or the equivalent
  2. ·For a Degree, you’ll need 2-3 A-levels or the equivalent

If this could be a route you’re interested in, you can search for relevant courses here