Culinary Arts Certification: Certificate Program Overview

Culinary arts certificate programs are taught at many private and public colleges and vocational schools. Common courses include food safety, international cuisine and nutrition.

Essential Information

While participating in a culinary arts certificate program, students learn the basics needed to work in the food service industry. They explore cooking and baking fundamentals, food safety, menu preparation and business skills. Some certificate programs allow students to select a culinary specialty, such as baking and pastry arts, while others teach all aspects of culinary arts.

Culinary Arts Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate in the culinary arts participate in classroom instruction and also receive hands-on training in school kitchens. Students learn how food is produced and prepared using various domestic and international techniques.

Courses and instruction may include:

  • Nutrition
  • Food safety and sanitation
  • Baking
  • Ethnic and international cuisine
  • Food purchasing
  • Restaurant operations

Popular Career Choices

With a certificate in culinary arts, students are prepared for entry-level employment in the restaurant and food service industries. Graduates can apply for jobs at hotels, resorts, restaurants, theme parks, catering companies and more. Some common career choices include:

  • Baker
  • Cook/Chef
  • Chocolatier
  • Restaurant manager
  • Caterer

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for chefs and head cooks are expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, also according to the BLS, the mean annual wage for these positions was $45,920, with the federal executive branch paying the highest average wages.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Many voluntary certifications are available for food service professionals at various credentialing agencies. Food service managers can obtain the Foodservice Management Professional certification from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (nraef.org). The American Culinary Federation also awards different certifications to chefs (www.acfchefs.org). Although certification is voluntary, it helps validate a culinary arts professional's experience and education qualifications. Each credentialing agency sets it own eligibility requirements for obtaining the certification.

Undergraduate degree programs at the associate's and bachelor's level are also available in culinary arts. Classes are more advanced and delve deeper into international cuisines, cooking and baking techniques and hospitality operations. Students may also have opportunities to participate in internships so they can gain professional experience.

Culinary arts certificate programs provide students with the skills necessary to pursue a career in the food industry as a chef, baker or caterer. Some programs focus on all aspects of the culinary arts while others allow students to select a specific cooking style to specialize in.

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