You’ve been watching cooking shows for as long as you can remember and the dishes you prepare for friends or family always earn high praise. Perhaps you dream of owning your own restaurant or one day appearing on a cooking challenge show yourself.
While you may have big dream, it helps to start small when planning your career. In many cases, enrolling in a formal culinary training program can be the first step to take to a rewarding career as in the kitchen.
Signs Culinary Training Is Right for You
Culinary schools teach you the basics of working in a professional kitchen, in a safe, supportive environment. You’ll learn more about food preparation and how to keep foods safe. You’ll also learn about the business aspect of working in or eventually running a restaurant.
You may be a good fit for culinary training if any or all of the following apply:
- You love to cook (or bake): If you enjoy cooking or baking, you’ll most likely love a career as a cook, pastry chef or chef.
- You want to deepen your skills and knowledge: Even if you go into culinary school with basic cooking skills, you’ll learn a lot. Most programs help you develop your knife skills, learn different cooking techniques, learn food safety methods, and learn how to work in a professional kitchen. You’ll also learn how to manage your time in a kitchen and will have a chance to network with others in the field.
- You’re looking for a fulfilling career: The culinary field has plenty of opportunities and lots of room for growth. You’re likely to find that there’s never a dull moment in the kitchen and that you can carve a career that suits your style and personality.
- You’re creative: Working in a restaurant kitchen gives you a chance to flex your creative muscles. Whether you end up creating delectable dishes as a chef or baking irresistible treats as a pastry chef, culinary training can lay the groundwork for a creative and challenging career.
Types of Culinary Arts Schools
Once you’ve decided that culinary training is right for you, the next step is to decide on the type of program that suits you best. You can get started in the field after completing a six-month foodservice skills program or decide to enroll in a four-year degree program. Your options for culinary training include:
- Culinary arts career certificates: A culinary arts career certificate prepares you for the an entry-level role in a restaurant kitchen. After completing your certificate, you can find work as a line cook, culinary manager or chef. Think of a career certificate as a fast-track option for culinary training.
- Associates degree in culinary arts: An associates degree takes a bit longer to earn than a career certificate, usually about two years. The training program will cover more than a certificate and may prepare you for a higher level role after graduation.
- Bachelors degrees in culinary arts: Bachelors degree programs typically take at least four years to complete. The training you receive will be more in-depth than that of a career certificate program.
- Pastry arts diploma or certificate: If baking’s your thing, then a diploma or certificate in pastry arts may be the better choice for you.
The Benefits of Culinary School
You don’t need to go to culinary school to get started in the food service business. Many chefs didn’t attend culinary school and ended up having long, fulfilling careers.
While it’s not always a requirement for a job, culinary school still has a lot to offer. You’ll get to hone your skills in a supportive environment. It’s okay to make mistakes, like put way too much salt in a dish, in culinary school. You’re there to learn. If you did the same in a restaurant kitchen, you might lose your job.
Culinary school also introduces you to others in the field and can lay the foundation for future business partnerships.
How Long Is Culinary School?
How long your culinary training lasts depends on the type of program you choose. If you opt for a career certificate, you can be out of training and into a kitchen in less than a year. Degree programs take longer, usually between two and four years.
How Much Does Culinary School Cost?
The cost of culinary school depends on the program and its duration. A bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts can cost you upwards of $100,000, depending on the school you attend.
Fortunately, many programs are much more affordable. Orange Technical College has two career certificates for people interested in food service careers. Our Fundamental Foodservice Skills program takes about six months and costs less than $4,000.
Our Professional Culinary Arts and Hospitality program takes about one year full-time and costs less than $7,000.
Contact us today to learn more about our culinary training programs and find out how to enroll.