• Culinary Career Paths

    There are a handful of main paths that can help you start one of today’s culinary careers.

    Chefs are the creative minds behind today’s restaurants. They are the most skilled cooks in their kitchens, and their decisions shape the menus of their establishments. Many chefs also play a major role in managing the kitchen staff, the day’s service, the preparation of different dishes, and the inventory and supply ordering. In some cases, they also oversee other restaurant operations.

    Pastry chefs create desserts, breads, pastries, cookies, and other baked goods. They work in any range of restaurants, as well as pastry shops and bakeries that distribute to wide networks. They can also work in specialty shops or grocery stores with in-house bakeries.

    Food service managers are in charge of the daily operations of restaurants, banuet halls, cafeterias, diners, and other food establishments. They can handle any aspect of the business outside of the cooking itself, from personnel management to customer relations to budgeting and stockroom management. They are in charge of making sure the restaurant operates smoothly, the bills get paid, and that the staff is providing great service to customers.

    Salaries for Culinary Careers

    As with many other industries, the salaries of culinary careers will vary greatly depending on experience and location. For example, a chef working in a swanky restaurant in Los Angeles can earn many times more than one working in a small family restaurant in a rural town.

    Chefs and head cooks earn a median salary nationally of just under $39,000, with the majority earning between $29,000 and $51,500. Again, this is heavily influenced by location as well as by education and experience.

    Cooks and food preparation workers can expect to earn around $24,000 annually, with most earning between $19,000-36,000. Bakers earn a median of just over $23,000, with the middle 50 percent earning between $18,000-29,000.

    Food service managers earn a median salary of around $46,000 – and again, this is another career that is heavily influenced by location. The majority earned between $36,000 and $59,000, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $76,000.

    Culinary Career Education

    The culinary arts are best learned by practicing, rather than through books. Many in the food service industry learn their trade simply by doing. However, with that said, there are a great many things both about the business of food and cooking itself that requires instruction, and those that wish to become more specialized often need advanced training to do so.

    Chefs generally need at least a two-year degree in culinary arts, food preparation, or hospitality, and many hold four-year degrees from culinary institutions. However, a decent amount of hands-on experience is also often required in order to become a head cook or a chef, so many work in kitchens as cooks or sous-chefs (assistants to the head chef) for several years before ascending to become heads of their kitchens.

    Cooks and food prep workers often require no formal training, as much of their education is done on the job. However, as mentioned above, those aspiring to become chefs or head cooks would do well to gain some culinary education. Certificate programs in cooking skills and culinary arts can be quite helpful.

    Making pastries requires fine control of ingredients, timing, and mixing, so pastry chefs benefit from a two- or four-year degree. Once they graduate, many begin as apprentices and trainees before becoming full-fledged pastry chefs.

    Food service managers are increasingly required to hold degrees in hospitality, hotel management, or business. While most food service managers have less than a bachelor’s degree, some post-secondary education is preferred – and four-year degrees are becoming more and more common. The business of food is becoming ever more complicated with ingredient sourcing, regulatory issues, and personnel management, so restaurants are keen to hire well-educated, well-prepared managers.

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    Culinary Arts Career Paths

    There are a handful of main paths that can help you start one of today’s culinary careers.

    Chefs:

    are the creative minds behind today’s restaurants. They are the most skilled cooks in their kitchens, and their decisions shape the menus of their establishments. Many chefs also play a major role in managing the kitchen staff, the day’s service, the preparation of different dishes, and the inventory and supply ordering. In some cases, they also oversee other restaurant operations.

    Pastry chefs:

    create desserts, breads, pastries, cookies, and other baked goods. They work in any range of restaurants, as well as pastry shops and bakeries that distribute to wide networks. They can also work in specialty shops or grocery stores with in-house bakeries.

    Food Service Managers:

    are in charge of the daily operations of restaurants, banuet halls, cafeterias, diners, and other food establishments. They can handle any aspect of the business outside of the cooking itself, from personnel management to customer relations to budgeting and stockroom management. They are in charge of making sure the restaurant operates smoothly, the bills get paid, and that the staff is providing great service to customers.

    Salaries for Culinary Careers:

    As with many other industries, the salaries of culinary careers will vary greatly depending on experience and location. For example, a chef working in a swanky restaurant in Los Angeles can earn many times more than one working in a small family restaurant in a rural town.

    Chefs and head cooks earn a median salary nationally of just under $39,000, with the majority earning between $29,000 and $51,500. Again, this is heavily influenced by location as well as by education and experience.

    Cooks and food preparation workers can expect to earn around $24,000 annually, with most earning between $19,000-36,000. Bakers earn a median of just over $23,000, with the middle 50 percent earning between $18,000-29,000.

    Food service managers earn a median salary of around $46,000 – and again, this is another career that is heavily influenced by location. The majority earned between $36,000 and $59,000, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $76,000.

    Culinary Career Education

    The culinary arts are best learned by practicing, rather than through books. Many in the food service industry learn their trade simply by doing. However, with that said, there are a great many things both about the business of food and cooking itself that requires instruction, and those that wish to become more specialized often need advanced training to do so.

    Chefs generally need at least a two-year degree in culinary arts, food preparation, or hospitality, and many hold four-year degrees from culinary institutions. However, a decent amount of hands-on experience is also often required in order to become a head cook or a chef, so many work in kitchens as cooks or sous-chefs (assistants to the head chef) for several years before ascending to become heads of their kitchens.

    Cooks and food prep workers often require no formal training, as much of their education is done on the job. However, as mentioned above, those aspiring to become chefs or head cooks would do well to gain some culinary education. Certificate programs in cooking skills and culinary arts can be quite helpful.

    Making pastries requires fine control of ingredients, timing, and mixing, so pastry chefs benefit from a two- or four-year degree. Once they graduate, many begin as apprentices and trainees before becoming full-fledged pastry chefs.

    Food service managers are increasingly required to hold degrees in hospitality, hotel management, or business. While most food service managers have less than a bachelor’s degree, some post-secondary education is preferred – and four-year degrees are becoming more and more common. The business of food is becoming ever more complicated with ingredient sourcing, regulatory issues, and personnel management, so restaurants are keen to hire well-educated, well-prepared managers.