Culinary Arts Degree

A career in the culinary arts requires a high level of skill and dedication to the craft. While it is a competitive field of work, there is an array of opportunities available for those interested in culinary arts management and careers related to the food and hospitality industry. One of the best methods to pave a career in culinary arts is to obtain a culinary arts degree that allows you to compete for the available career choices.


1. Culinary Art and Culinarians

Culinary art is the art of food preparation, or any expertly executed skill that relates to dining, cooking, and various forms of food service. The culinary artist, or a certified culinarian, works in the behind-the-scene environment of the kitchen, as well as the cutting-edge competition at the forefront of food consultancy and culinary arts management. The important thing to remember is that as a culinary artist you are often expected to do more than simply cook. You are responsible for stimulating the senses of clients who will enjoy a meal while also providing a high standard of service.

Whether your role is to cook the meal, present the meal, or serve the meal, you require the skill to fully execute your responsibility in the art of culinary presentation. A culinary arts degree will allow you to learn about all aspects of the trade, thus preparing you to work in various fields. You might opt to specialize in a particular type of culinary art, and this choice will affect the type of culinary arts program you choose. Choosing a culinary arts specialty can assist you in improving your future career options and making yourself more marketable. Furthermore, there are many types of culinary arts that you should be aware of before making a decision about which culinary arts degree program to enter.

2. Choosing a Degree and Specialty in the Culinary Arts

Although culinary art is a general career option, many culinarians choose to specialize in a particular area within the culinary arts. Some of the options available for those students who would like a culinary arts degree and prefer to have a rewarding career away from the public eye are: a general chef, a cook, a personal chef, a food stylist, a baker, a food and sanitation inspection officer, a design consultant, a kitchen equipment sales representative, a wine taster, or a food consultant.

Choosing a culinary arts program where you learn the skills necessary to excel in these specialties, will enable you to work with clients who are themselves restaurant managers or event planners, and at times, you will be required to supervise and manage your own staff. If you find working with the general public and the dining environment to be a more rewarding experience for you, you might choose a culinary arts degree that allows you to specialize in becoming a dining room service manager, a food critic, a food sales representative, a professional waiter, a hotel kitchen manager, or perhaps a nutritionist. Even within these options there are a number of subdivisions that refine a student's course of study in a culinary arts program. For example, if you chose to become a chef, your program would assist you with the decision of what type of chef (e.g. pastry chef, fine cuisine chef, hotel and resort chef, banquet chef, meat chef, cultural specialty chef, gluten-free chef, vegetarian foods chef etc.) to become.

Regardless of which specialty you decide on, or if you are still uncertain of your options, a culinary arts degree can help you to narrow down your choices to the particular area of culinary arts that best suits you. In addition, a culinary arts program will also assist you in expanding your possibilities as a culinary artist. Different degrees are readily available for people wanting to become students of the culinary arts. There are Associate degree programs, Certificate programs, Bachelor of Arts programs, as well as online and distance learning choices for any of these degree options. Choosing to study in a culinary arts program will allow you to commence a fruitful career in the culinary arts.

3. An Associate Degree in Culinary Arts

The Associate degree culinary arts program requires the general prerequisites earned in a high school diploma, and is often most popular for those just starting out as students in the culinary arts. A culinary arts Associate degree generally takes a student two years of full time study to complete. There are community colleges that offer this program as well as private culinary arts institutes. However, study at private institutes tends to be more costly than the typical community college. Private culinary arts institutes offer programs that are usually at least double the cost of a community college, and for the average student, cost is a factor in deciding whether or not to pursue a degree. Many institutes do not advertise their program costs online and it is often best to call and speak with a representative to find out accurate information on tuition and program duration.

The Associate degree, or Associate in Applied Science degree, will give a student in the culinary arts program general exposure to food preparation, cooking theories, customer service and human relations, kitchen skills, equipment operations, and kitchen management. Culinary arts Associate degrees also tend to offer hospitality and management programs in combination with the culinary arts degree. In general, a student looking to pursue a two year culinary arts degree should ensure that the Associate program which they enter is an accredited program that allows them to continue on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree if they choose to.

4. A Bachelor of Arts Degree in Culinary Arts

A Bachelor of Arts in the culinary discipline commonly prepares students to work in management positions. While these positions will most likely be at the entry level, they can lead graduates into long-term culinary arts management careers. The Bachelor of Arts degree option usually takes four years to complete, but if a student enters into a bachelor's degree program with an Associate degree already in hand, a student can often complete a bachelor's with another one to two years of study at the bachelor's level. The four-year degree in the culinary arts is more frequently found in private institutes rather than state universities or colleges, but there are programs that offer culinary arts management or hospitality and management Bachelor of Arts degrees. In these programs, students learn skills that will complement their knowledge learned in a prior culinary arts program, or will simply be exposed to new content as a component of the bachelor's program. Students will often be required to learn skills in finance and accounting, business management, as well as law and marketing. Financial and legal skills are all necessary for students seeking a degree in culinary arts management.

As you gain management skills, you will continue to learn various food preparation techniques that are more specialized, perhaps in Mediterranean or Caribbean cuisine depending on your interest. Bachelor of Science credentials might be combined with other degree options, such as a degree in food and nutrition, or other arts degrees like photography that can lead to a specialty in food styling and photography. In addition, students will usually participate in internships programs to gain job experience. There are few graduate level programs specifically in the area of culinary arts. Nevertheless, Master of Arts graduate programs in food sciences, food studies, as well as public health, all work as useful combinations for students who have earned a four year culinary arts degree and are looking to further their professional qualifications.

5. Culinary Arts Certificates and Specialty Training

Certain students may not want to pursue an Associate degree or a Bachelor of Arts degree in culinary arts, but still would like to study in a culinary arts program. On the other hand, if you have already earned a degree, you might be hoping to sharpen your skills in a particular specialty. In these instances, Certificate programs in culinary art are useful. If you have a bachelor's degree in an area related to culinary arts, such as food and nutrition, or tourism and management, you are most likely eligible to take an Accelerated Certificate program in culinary arts that can provide you with additional knowledge in particular specialties. Alternatively, you might want to take a Certificate program as preparation for an Associate degree or bachelor's program. So a certificate in culinary art can be useful on its own, or in combination with a culinary arts degree.

Since Certificate programs can stand alone, there are employers who do consider this kind of culinary arts program as preparation for immediate entrance into employment. There are a variety of Certificate programs that have different durations of study. Some specialty programs are as short as 6 to 8 weeks, while others last anywhere from 8 to 10 months of study. This training can provide you with basic cooking skills or specialty skills depending on the type of program you choose. For example, you might decide to specialize solely in baking and pastry and earn a certificate that allows you to open a home-based pastry making and delivery service. In general, Certificate programs involve no more than 12 months of academic study, and do entail a lot of practical experience that is useful for students entering directly into employment as a member of kitchen staff, a cook's assistant, or a chef's apprentice.

6. Salaries in the Culinary Arts

Culinary artists clearly posses many profitable career options, but it is best to do some research on job-related salaries before deciding which degree is best for you. A cook with an Associate degree or general culinary arts certificate might make a salary of $25,000 per year to start, whereas a master chef with a four year culinary arts degree, work experience, and a specialty certificate could make anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 per year. Food service managers typically earn a salary in the mid $40,000 range, while a restaurant manager with an Associate degree could earn a salary in the mid $30,000 to $50,000 range.

A hotel manager who also oversees the food preparation and service can make over 6 figures where the salary ranges anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000 per year. Food stylists make a salary in the high $40,000 region to start. Of course, much of the salary information in the culinary arts industry is determined by location. A culinarian who lives in larger, more tourist oriented city, or a get-away destination, is likely to make a much larger salary than a culinarian who opts to locate to a smaller town. Regardless of your choice, the spectrum of career options and salaries after completing a culinary arts program is wide and varied.

7. Good Places for the Culinary Artist to Live and Work

Many regions cater to the life of a culinary artist, particularly when the job opportunities range from high profile and high salary jobs, home-based businesses, and management positions, to employment that allows for more personal time, flexibility, and freedom. The best places to live within the United States for culinary arts graduates are typically larger cities. Locations such as New York City, Boston, and Chicago provide the best career options for those looking to make above average salaries after completing a culinary arts degree.

Other locations that are supportive of an education in culinary arts are Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and Atlanta. Of course, there is also a large demand for culinary artists globally, but the demand is also predicted to increase within North America in the next decade. So obtaining a culinary arts degree now will put you in a good position to meet market demands, yielding you personal satisfaction with future earnings, and the autonomy of deciding your long-term career options.

8. Well-known Culinarians

Famous culinarians who pursued degrees in the culinary arts are those such as Chef Emeril Lagasse. Lagasse earned a first degree in the culinary arts and later on in his career he received an honorary Ph.D. in recognition of his contribution to the field of culinary arts. The famous television chef, Julia Childs, also studied culinary arts. Although other big names, such as Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray, have been extremely successful in the culinary arts entertainment industry without a culinary arts degree, those people wanting to enter the industry to pursue a lifetime career (without the entertainment portion) usually do explore their degree options.

9. Benefits of a Culinary Arts Degree

Asides from the plethora of career choices, a culinary arts degree holder has other benefits. For example, if you desire to travel while you work, a degree in culinary arts will allow you to find employment anywhere in the world, providing you know the basics of the language wherever you go. With the burgeoning food service, tourism, and hotel construction industries, persons who opt to study in a culinary arts program will benefit from the industry's growth. A degree also allows you to branch out into other related fields (e.g. health) that can provide you with knowledge that is beneficial to yourself and in some cases your family.

While a culinary arts degree enables you to access the high profile entertainment industry, you might also benefit from slower paced options like working in a school as an instructor. The job security gained from teaching experience is invaluable. You may also decide to go into publishing and write your own cookbook. The important thing to remember is that your degree and training in culinary art gives you the benefit of having options, while you have the opportunity to be creative. Thus, if you have a genuine interest in the industry, you can derive a great amount of job satisfaction after studying in a culinary arts program.
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