As long as people enjoy dining out or serving food they did not have to prepare themselves, there will always be a need for chefs, bakers, and caterers. Fortunately, you can earn a culinary arts degree and get a real advantage in the job market over those without formal training. Also, being a gourmet chef involves more than just food preparation.
Those who make their living with these skills must also have a great deal of knowledge about nutrition, how to plan a meal, what appropriate portion sizes are, and how to reduce waste, use leftovers, and come up with food storage solutions.
Management positions in food service also require an understanding of inventory, accounting, and purchasing procedures. Because of this, an online culinary arts degree can set a candidate apart from the rest of the crowd when it comes time to apply for the most coveted positions.
The job growth in the field of food service and preparation is expected to grow 11% by 2016, which is the average rate of growth for all industries. As household income increases, people tend to dine out more often. Therefore, as the economy grows, so do the amount of jobs in restaurants, hotels, and resorts. Also, there is a growing desire now to eat more nutritious meals made from scratch, but at the same time, in families where both adults work outside the home, convenience is still a major consideration. Because of this, the demand for healthy, prepared food options will increase.
The median annual income for head cooks and chefs in May of 2006 was nearly $35,000, with some of the top chefs earning $61,000 and those on the low end earning $20,000. Those working in resorts or other parts of the recreation industry make more than their colleagues at other food service establishments. Also, chefs in upscale restaurants make more money than those in more casual dining establishments, but these jobs are highly competitive and hard to come by. During economic downturns, instead of choosing not to eat out, people generally choose to eat at less expensive restaurants. Therefore, chefs in fine dining establishments make the most money but are also the most vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy.
Those who work in food service but not in the prime positions of chef or head cook make significantly less. The median salary for private household cooks in 2006 was $23,000, for cafeteria cooks was $20,500, and for restaurant cooks was $20,000. At the lowest end of the pay scale are the short-order cooks and the food preparation workers who each earned a median salary of approximately $17,500.
1 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There is an amazing array of online programs available for those interested in a culinary arts degree. Some schools award certificates for students who complete 6-8 week programs that are available in a wide variety of areas, like the Art of Cooking, Baking and Pastry Arts, Restaurant/Food service Management, Wine and Beverage Management, and Hotel and Convention Management. Associate degrees are also offered in areas like Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry, and Food and Beverage, and these degrees can be earned in less than two years.
A bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for entry into this field like it is for many others, but having such a degree does set a candidate apart from those who have only a certificate, associate’s degree, or just training has been on-the-job. Since top chefs are expected to run their kitchens like businesses in many ways, this additional training can be very helpful. Bachelor’s degrees are available in Food and Beverage Management, Culinary Arts, and Business/Hospitality Management. The great number of options available from both cooking schools as well as regular universities for a culinary arts degree makes it possible for anyone interested in the field to find the exact program needed.