How to Get a Culinary Arts Career

Do you watch cooking shows and feel like you could do a better job than the contestants? Or pass boarded-up restaurants and shake your head, knowing that you would have been able to draw more people in? Or perhaps you read scathing reviews of your favorite restaurants (or glowing reviews of place with food you hate) and want to combat those words with ones of your own.

All of these are potential jobs you can work towards in the culinary arts, but they each require a specific kind of formal training in order to pursue them. For some, you need degrees from cooking schools. For others, the coursework you complete may be more general.

So what kind of education do you need to go after these different careers?

General Degrees to Work in the Culinary Industry

B.A. in Hospitality Management; Restaurant/Food and Beverage Management. This four-year degree is for people who are interested in owning or managing an establishment in the food and beverage industry, such as a restaurant, bar, or brewery. Alternatively, you might want to work as a food, wine, or beer critic (not a bad gig!) or help culinary establishments by consulting or marketing their brand. An internship is required.

B.A. in Hospitality Management; Beverage Management. Those who go after this degree tend to be less interested in actually working with food and more focused on beer, wine, and spirits, so they skip the parts focusing on restaurant management. It may be perfect if you’re thinking of starting a microbrewery or buying a vineyard. And just like with the degree above, you can also write, consult, or become a marketer. This four-year degree also requires an internship.

Culinary Certificate Experience. If you’re really interested in baking and cooking but don’t have the time or money to invest in a longer degree, this Certificate may be perfect. You can graduate in as little as 10 weeks, no internship is needed, and you’ll exit ready and able to get hired as a cook.

Specific Culinary Arts Degrees

Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry (A.A.S.).
Do you really, really like making desserts but could do without other kinds of cooking? Is it your dream to open up a bakery? Is it impossible for you to spend four years getting a cooking degree? Though the coursework is focused solely on baking, individuals who complete this degree will have the ability to work under an executive chef in a full-service restaurant where they will be in charge of the dessert menu or can even open up their own baked goods shop.

Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts (A.A.S.). This program can be completed in two years by someone participating full time, or in four years if you split your coursework with a job and attend only part time. Graduates will be able to work anywhere in the kitchen, but won’t receive much training for work outside of it.

B.A. in Culinary Arts. If you want to find work in the highest levels of the culinary arts industry and have the flexibility to work both inside the kitchen and outside in other culinary positions, this is the degree for you. You’ll need to complete four years of coursework as well as an internship, but once you get that degree in your hands, you should be ready to enter the culinary workforce and begin your climb to the top.

Starting to get even more pumped up about working in the culinary arts? You’ve picked a great time to do it. Not only does the industry as a whole employ around 13 million people in our country, but jobs are being added at a faster rate than they are in the U.S. economy as a whole. In short, once you have that degree in your hand, you’re probably going to find it easier to get some kind of job in the culinary industry than your roommate who studied English (sorry, English majors!).

Learn even more about how to get the job you want and what kinds of positions are out there by checking out Kendall College’s culinary careers infographic offering an overview of the industry.


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