If you want to become a chef, you might wonder if a culinary degree is worth it.
Attending culinary school is one way to set yourself on track for a culinary career. If you want to become a chef or open your own restaurant, this article is for you!
Culinary school is not the only way to follow your delicious dreams. It’s important to fully understand your options so that you can make an informed choice.
We’re going to cover everything you need to know about culinary degrees. If this is to your taste, read on!
What Does A Culinary Degree Cover?
If you love cooking and are considering a culinary degree, you might be wondering, “What can I do with a culinary degree?”
This degree focuses on teaching various skills that will serve you well as a chef. This includes much work around classical techniques that chefs use.
The aim of this degree is to set you up for working in a restaurant. There is a strong, practical focus on skills development.
Knowledge of these skills is an important part of being a chef. To get fancy in the kitchen, you need to know the basics, such as the different methods of cutting vegetables and the various mother sauces.
A large part of culinary school is learning how to prepare and make delicious meals, but you’ll also learn more about how to operate in a kitchen.
The goal of culinary school is not just to teach you to cook well, but to prepare you for working as a chef in a restaurant.
You’ll learn about food management, menu planning, staff management, food service math, and accounting.
There are other related degrees, like culinology (also called culinary science), which might be more up your alley. Culinology is a good option if you want to focus on the research behind cooking and recipe creation.
How Long Is A Culinary Degree?
How long it takes to get a culinary degree depends on a couple of factors, such as whether you choose to pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s.
You can choose to attend a community college, a university, or a specialized culinary school. This will impact the duration of your studies.
An associate degree takes typically two years and is often done through a community college. In addition to culinary arts classes, you will also partake in some general education classes.
A bachelor’s degree is normally four years and is done at a university or accredited culinary school. This additional time allows you to spend longer learning and implementing important skills.
Getting a culinary degree allows you to gain mastery over a wide range of cuisines and culinary techniques.
This can make you more attractive to potential employers. It can also open doors by preparing you to apply to a greater variety of restaurants.
Chefs With Degrees Vs. Without: Who Comes Out On Top?
If you were wondering what degree you need to be a chef, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need one at all. You can learn to be a chef through experience over study.
Many well-known chefs did not go to culinary schools, such as Gordon Ramsey and Ina Garten.
If you choose this route, be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. The end goal won’t be guaranteed. If you manage to work your way up, you’ll only gain experience working with the cuisine of that specific restaurant.
This means you’ll have less transferable experience when looking to move to a new job.
In a kitchen, the focus is on getting the job done fast, rather than being instructed on how to refine your skills.
The general opinion seems to be that culinary school is not necessary to become a great chef.
However, a common opinion is that culinary school can open doors. Prospective chefs with a degree and experience may find it easier to land the job they set their sights on.
“When I was offered the opportunity to have an ownership stake in a restaurant, that’s when things I learned in culinary school became really valuable,” says chef Joshua Massin in an article for Food and Wine.
Culinary school will provide you with an immediate advantage. But, everyone in the kitchen starts at the bottom, regardless of your academic background!
This is also true for cooking-related culinary arts.
Life After Culinary School
Are you wondering what to do with a culinary degree, and if you can make a living as a chef? We’ve got you covered!
Culinary school can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 a year, depending on whether you are studying in-state or out-of-state. While this might seem costly, it is an investment in your career.
The average salary median for a person with a culinary degree in the U.S. is $29,916, with Hawaii having the highest average salary median.
In most cases, there is no major difference in salaries between those with bachelor’s or associate’s degrees.
Let’s answer the question on your mind: what can you do with a culinary degree?
There are many job opportunities for those with culinary degrees. Chefs, head cooks, and service workers are just a few.
You can find work as a private residential chef or a cook in a kitchen. The more work experience you have, the more successful you will be in your job hunt, and the higher your salary will be.
For a head cook or chef at a good restaurant, you typically need between 2-4 years of experience. This means that you will likely have to work as a cook before progressing.
Are you ready to be whisked away by the bustle of kitchen life, knife skills, and mouth-watering sauces?
While a culinary degree is not the only way to make it as a chef, it is a great way to jumpstart your career. Culinary school can equip you with many skills that allow you to work diverse jobs.
If you’re interested in a culinary career, a culinary degree is a great launching pad!
Megan Raftery is a freelance writer at a content marketing firm. She is also doing a Master’s in English Literature and spends all her free time reading.