How to Become a Chef in South Dakota

To be a chef or another type of professional in the culinary industry can be a great way to make a living. If you are passionate about food and cooking for others, you can earn a good income working in a kitchen at a restaurant or hotel or even in a school or hospital cafeteria. South Dakota is seeing growth in culinary jobs right now, so it’s a smart time to start looking into these careers and figuring out what you need to do to become a chef. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in South Dakota

South Dakota, like other states, has not set any specific requirements for training, education or licensing for chefs, cooks and other kitchen workers. What you need at a minimum to be hired for most kitchen jobs is to have a high school diploma or a GED. From there, you can learn on the job and work your way up to become a lead cook, a chef or even a pastry chef.

If you take the above route to becoming a chef, be sure you get hired by an employer willing to train you and help you work up to a better position. Otherwise, consider earning a culinary degree or certificate. A culinary arts program is a great foundation for beginning a career in cooking and can help you land a better job than you would get with no training or specific culinary education.

Culinary Arts Programs in South Dakota

If you choose to start your new career with a formal education, you have just one option in South Dakota. Because the state is so sparsely populated, there is only one post-secondary school offering a culinary program. It is a good program, though, and is recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission.

Unless you are open to training out of state, you will want to enroll in the culinary arts associate’s degree program at Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell. The Culinary Academy of South Dakota at Mitchell Tech offers a program that currently has a 100 percent rate of placing graduates in jobs. Students learn in the classroom here as well as in the kitchen laboratory. You will also have the option to complete just one year of classes and to earn a diploma, but you may want to carry on for the second year to earn the degree.

Certification and Licensing

There is no required licensing or certification for working as a culinary professional in South Dakota. But the American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a respected and nationally-recognized professional organization that offers several areas of certification you may want to achieve in order to prove you have the skills and knowledge to do the job. Some examples of certifications offered by the ACF include Certified Fundamentals Cook, Certified Sous Chef and Certified Chef de Cuisine. To become certified, you need to pass a written and practical exam for each specialization for which you apply.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Most areas of culinary jobs are seeing growth right now in South Dakota. Jobs for restaurant cooks are increasing by 12.7 percent and those for head cooks and chefs are growing by 11.1 percent. Other types of jobs seeing good growth and more positions available for qualified professionals are in baking and pastry, institutional cooking and food service management.

Average salaries for culinary careers are reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2017. Restaurant cooks that year earned an average of $12.48 per hour and $25,970 per year in South Dakota. Head cooks and chefs earned $23.97 per hour and $49,860 per year. Those earning in the top 10 percent made$68,180 and more per year. Food service managers make the most on average in the state, earning $52,700 per year.

Working as a Chef in South Dakota

South Dakota is a state with a lot of open space, but it also has a good culinary industry. Tourism is a big industry, and resorts and hotels need good chefs and cooks. Look for jobs at these locations and also in the state’s larger cities: Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen. You may be hired by a restaurant, hotel, tourist ranch, hospital, school or catering company, or you may even choose to be an entrepreneur and start your own career as a personal chef or caterer. With a good education, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in South Dakota.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area Area

Mitchell Technical Institute

1800 E. Spruce Street, Mitchell, South Dakota 57301
(605) 995-3025
Chef – Certificate Program, Bakery Supervisor – Associate Program

Mitchell Technical Institute offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Mitchell in Davison County. Most of the school’s 1,261 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition are likely to be about $6,432 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $850, although this will vary with the program.

* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics ( Confirm with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of South Dakota may also wish to review their options in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.