Culinary Arts Degrees: Create a Career Out of Your Love of Food

Culinary Arts Schools

Although a degree is not required in order to embark on a culinary career, culinary arts programs can help you acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the competitive culinary field. Two of the most popular paths for culinary students are positions as either a chef or a food service manager. Chefs oversee daily food preparation and direct kitchen staff, while food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. Whether you would like to gain experience with the backend or frontend operations of a restaurant, a culinary arts degree could be your next step to becoming a culinary professional.

Culinary Arts Program Requirements

Degree Levels

In the field of culinary arts, you may pursue a certificate or diploma, as well as degrees at the associate’s and bachelor’s level. Certificates and diplomas make take a year to complete, whereas associate’s degrees can typically be completed in two years, and a bachelor’s degree will require four years of study.

Prerequisites and Specializations

The prerequisites for most culinary arts programs are usually a high school diploma or GED. Areas in which students may specialize include baking and pastry arts, culinary arts, hospitality and restaurant management, and culinary management.

Culinary Arts Degree Curriculum


Culinary programs typically teach basic and classic fundamental cooking techniques in an intensive practical curriculum. They also equip students with food and beverage operations management skills, which encompass effective menu planning, costing, and inventory control, among other areas.

Culinary Arts Courses

The curriculum at a culinary school may cover topics such as:

  • Garde manager
  • Cheese training
  • Hygiene, sanitation, and safety
  • Food and beverage operations management
  • Charcuterie
  • Butchery
  • World cuisines
  • Wine and beverage management
  • Culinary knife skills


In addition to developing your knowledge and skills in the classroom, culinary arts programs will also likely provide you with hands-on experience via externships at fine-dining establishments.

Job Outlook for Culinary Arts Graduates

Restaurant Careers

Culinary school grads may qualify for jobs as a:

  • Food service manager
  • Cook
  • Baker
  • Pastry chef
  • Food preparation worker
  • Line chef
  • Sous chef
  • Executive chef
  • Wine and beverage manager

Careers in Other Fields

However, there is more to the culinary arts than positions in a restaurant. A culinary arts degree could also prepare you for a career in:

  • Food product development
  • Catering
  • Food styling
  • Food science
  • Wine promotion
  • Food writing

Employment Projections

Although culinary positions can be diverse, the one thing that most culinary career paths have in common is that competition for employment is extremely high. As the number of new eating and drinking establishments is expected to decline in the coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of food service managers is projected to decrease 3% from 2010 to 2020, while the employment of chefs and head cooks should experience little to no change from 2010 to 2020. Positions in the culinary field tend to be hectic, fast-paced, and often involve long hours. Salaries will vary greatly by role, location, and level of experience.


In 2012, the median annual wages for the following culinary careers were:

As long as people need to eat, there will continue to be jobs in the food service industry. Applicants who have a relevant degree and extensive work experience will have an edge in the job market. If you know how to feed people and can provide them with a satisfying dining experience, then the culinary arts may be right for you. Begin pursuing a challenging, rewarding, and exciting career in the food service industry by exploring culinary arts schools on our site today.

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