Culinary Arts Schools

Culinary arts is possibly the most popular degree in the culinary field. It gives the broadest education of all three degrees, and it tackles more subject areas than other degree options. Most students opt to complete a two-year Associate's degree program, but you can also pursue a one-year certificate or four-year Bachelor's degree.

What You'll Learn

One of the benefits of pursuing a culinary arts degree is that you don't have to have any knowledge going into the program. If you've never cooked before, it's not an issue. Culinary arts programs are designed to start from scratch and teach you everything you need to know to be a successful line chef.

Most culinary arts courses focus on practical cooking skills, rather than restaurant management or menu creation. Early skills include knife skills, food safety, food identification, and ingredient pairing. You can also plan on learning about different types of protein, how to butcher them, and different ways to cook them safely.

Many schools offer education in different types of international cuisine. You may be required to learn about internationally-recognized cuisines, like French and Italian cuisine. However, you may also have the opportunity to learn about Asian, New American, South American, and African cuisines.

Since practical experience is the most important aspect of this degree, you may be expected to complete an internship. Your school may set you up with a local restaurant, hotel, or banquet center to work under a successful chef.

Career Outlook

The skills you learn in culinary school can help you start a new career. You may work as a restaurant cook, a line chef, or even an executive chef. Most restaurants require you to start out as a prep cook or line chef, since you typically have to have seniority to take on higher-ranking chef positions. You can also work as a personal chef or caterer; these positions often require travel, as you may need to serve clients in their homes.

Salaries vary from state to state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the average salary for a restaurant cook is $20,550 per year. Head chefs tend to earn more; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average salary of $42,480 per year.