How to Become a Food Critic: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn about the education and experience you'll need to become a food critic. Find out what undergraduate majors can help you enter the field and what other steps you can take to pursue this career.

Food Critics

Food critics test and review dishes eaten in restaurants. They often try a variety of dishes and also might comment on the restaurant's service and atmosphere. Food critics work for newspapers, magazines and food-related websites. Many jobs are freelance, and there may be intense competition for positions.

Career Information

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields English, communication, journalism, or a related field
Experience Several years of journalism experience
Key Skills Strong written communication; creativity; critical thinking; knowledge of word processing, online publishing, and social media software
Median Salary (May 2015) $37,720 per year (For all types of reporters)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 9% decrease

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Let's look at some of the steps that can help you pursue a career as a food critic.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Food critics need to capture the taste, appearance, smell, and texture of a dish in their reviews, so candidates for the position must have excellent communication skills. Students can gain the necessary writing ability through a degree program in English, journalism, or communication. Aspiring food critics also might choose to enroll in a culinary program or take courses in the culinary arts to learn about food composition, chemistry, and cooking techniques. Some schools offer courses in food media or food reviewing. Food critics are expected to write in a professional but honest manner, so students should sharpen their critical thinking skills and learn to express unfavorable opinions in a clear and well-reasoned way.

Success Tips:

  • Try a variety of foods. In addition to cultivating an original writing voice, food critics need to expose themselves to foods of all types and backgrounds. Students can broaden their knowledge by eating unfamiliar or unappealing foods and analyzing each of the components in a dish. Reading published food reviews can give aspiring critics an idea of what aspects to focus on.
  • Gain practical experience. Students can build their knowledge and skills by completing a food writing internship. Interns might conduct research and compose stories about restaurants, nutrition, or culinary news. Other options including writing a food-related column for the college's newspaper or managing a food blog.

Step 2: Get Work Experience

Food critics can build their writing and reviewing skills at a newspaper, magazine, or online publication. Writers or reporters might be able to advance to a food critic position by gaining experience with an employer and producing a collection of original reviews. Candidates also can work as freelance food writers. Prospective critics should be familiar with the preparation, arrangement, and serving of restaurant dishes, so working in a restaurant can add to their credentials. They also might make it a point to travel and taste foreign dishes to widen their culinary perspective.

Step 3: Join and Network

Networking within the field can help a food critic find opportunities for advancement. Joining a professional organization such as the Association of Food Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists can provide access to resources including networking opportunities, industry guides, and conferences.

Remember, you'll need a bachelor's degree in English, communications, journalism, or a related major and journalism experience to pursue a career as a food critic. As of May 2015, reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts overall earned a median salary of $37,720 a year, in a field where job openings are projected to decrease by 9% through 2024.

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