Training for a Culinary Career
Find a Culinary
School Near You
While some basic culinary skills can be learned through on the job training, to obtain a higher paying job and advance in a culinary career, you will probably need to have some advanced training.
For someone still in high school and contemplating a career as a cook or chef, the best advice is to complete high school, making sure to select, if possible, courses in mathematics and business. If a school offers internships or training programs in food preparation, they should be taken, as they provide a sense of what a culinary career could provide. High school vocational programs, however, do not provide the same level of training received in a degree or certificate culinary program, and are not as well accepted by many employers.
Following high school, particularly when seeking a career as an executive chef or other managerial job, further education at a college offering culinary degrees, or at a culinary institute will provide more career opportunities with less on the job training than simply working one's way up the ladder beginning with a lesser skilled job in the kitchen. You may need to spend between eight and fifteen years as a cook before becoming a chef.
The Benefits of a Culinary Degree or Certificate Program
Someone that holds a degree or certificate program in the culinary arts may be able to begin their career as a cook or chef without first spending time in a lower skilled job. In addition, degree or certificate holders may be able to begin their careers at a better hotel or fine restaurant, which typically has more exacting hiring standards.
Students at culinary certificate or degree programs spend most of their time learning how to prepare food, including baking, broiling, and pastry making. Time is also spent on the use and care of kitchen equipment. In addition to learning about food preparation, students study health and sanitation requirements, portion control, cost management, food purchasing, selection and storage, and menu planning. Many schools also teach general management skills, including accounting, employee relations, and other topics. It can take from a few months to up to two years to complete a degree or certificate courses.
Next: Culinary Career Working Conditions