Sous chef's salary and other things you should know

In our previous article, we have already discussed sous chefs’ role in the F&B industry, who they are and what their responsibilities entail. This article, however, will focus primarily on their salary and some other important details about this position, namely their personality, prerequisite skills, qualifications and training. Let’s find out with Hufr! 

How much do they earn?  

Whenever we apply for a certain job, remuneration is usually one of the most crucial factors. Working as a sous chef is no exception. In a hotel or a restaurant for instance, their current rate ranges from 8 to 20 million Vietnam Dong (VND). However, the exact number changes depending on each position’s scope, requirements, the type of establishment, and their level of professional kitchen experience. 

Of course it is quite common knowledge that high-end (i.e., four to five-star) hotels and restaurants have much higher financial incentives than lower-rated ones. These prestigious establishments are likely to demand a lot and long working hours are commonplace. Contract caterers in schools and offices tend to pay the least. Chefs in this sector usually work according to fixed hours, hence have better work-life balance. 

Other than salary, some employers also offer other perks such as free food, drinks, or even live-in opportunities which can be quite prevalent in a private household or a large-scale hotel. Positions like relief sous chefs can be less common in Vietnam but if they do exist, chefs are required to travel across the country and fill in where necessary to cover for short- or long-term absences. Relief sous chefs’ travel and accommodation expenses can be covered by the establishment that hires them. 

What specific skills do sous chefs need to progress in this competitive career? 

It is undeniably challenging to become a sous chef and not everyone is cut out for this role. Sous chef positions require an incredible amount of passion, dedication and hands-on experience. They need a vast range of culinary skills in almost all areas of the kitchen, well-rounded people skills, and the capacity to work in highly stressful environments. Additionally, sous chefs have to show strong leadership ability with self-discipline who can also train and motivate junior kitchen staff.  

As a general guide, recruiters will look for these skills or abilities in a prospective sous chef: 

  • Imaginative food preparation, cooking and plating skills 
  • Innovative and efficient use of ingredients and recipe designs
  • Mentoring and training capability 
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills 
  • Ability to work under pressure 
  • Quick problem identification and resolution  
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills
  • Good computer and kitchen equipment literacy 
  • Leadership and decision-making skills
  • Ability to work in a team 
  • Ability to manage budgets
  • Extremely high standards 
  • Ability to cover all workstations if needed
  • Extensive knowledge of the hospitality and catering industry
  • Excellent understanding of customer requirements 

These are the core skills of a sous chef in the most prestigious establishments. The smaller the kitchen there will be fewer duties and prerequisite skills that accompany. However, aspiring sous chefs should be well-prepared to brush up these skills before landing themselves such jobs. 

What personal traits make a good sous chef? 

Any professionals in the culinary world would know that a chef is not all about cooking. A glance at the most successful chefs reveal some common personality traits that distinguish them from others. These include creativity, passion, courage, innovation, and assertiveness. 

Some other desirable characteristics are a balanced mindset, confidence, self-discipline, and curiosity. Recruiters remark that sous chefs should also be receptive towards feedback and be willing to improve their own skills constantly. Caring, ambitious, and detailed-oriented individuals make exceptional sous chefs as well. 

What qualifications are essential for a sous chef? 

For smaller and less formal establishments, we can see sous chefs without formal education moving up the ladder by experience and seniority. However, Hufr believes that highly standardized kitchens will demand chefs with advanced culinary training and esteemed qualifications. Each employer will also have their own set of requirements so always check out their job description first to see if you are eligible! 

Culinary certificate: this is the quickest way to enter the culinary world with only less than a year to finish. The course/ program usually focuses on practical experience. These certificates include pastry/ baking, culinary skills, and food science. 

Culinary diploma/ Higher diploma: this is more of an advanced college degree in this field and it will take another 1 to 2 years. Upon completion, you will have knowledge on international cuisines, food safety, and food supply chains. 

Culinary Bachelor: Almost all chefs stop after acquiring their bachelor’s degree if they do not wish to enter academia (i.e., teaching and research). At this level, students will be educated about management skills, marketing, finance and so on to operate and manage a F&B business. 

Sous Chefs’ Career Path 

If you are setting your eyes on becoming a sous chef, it is common to start from the lowest positions in a kitchen brigade, namely kitchen porters, kitchen assistants or commis chefs. 

In larger establishments, talented and dedicated individuals will have the opportunity to progress to cooks and then chef de partie for about 2 to 3 years. The next level will be sous chef but some kitchens might require you to be a junior sous chef for a short amount of time first. 

Finally, after some years mastering the responsibilities of a sous chef (or sometimes as executive or senior sous chef), those who have what it takes can become a chef de cuisine, head chef or executive chef (i.e., the absolute top of the kitchen tree). 

The bottom line

Being a sous chef with a high salary is no simple task and there are so many prerequisites that you need to cultivate and hone. Luckily, Hufr has collated information from the most reliable sources to help you embark on your journey of becoming a sous chef in this highly competitive industry. 

Whether you are looking for a hospitality role or simply just want to expand your knowledge in said field, contact us today to find out how we can help you advance your career prospects at and we will be sure to get back! 

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