Most food preparation certificate programs are offered through community colleges, trade schools or food safety organizations. Such programs typically take between a semester and a year to complete, although accelerated programs exist for experienced chefs who are simply looking for a quick credential in food preparation. Some four-year universities offer food preparation certificate programs as part of larger degree programs in restaurant management, culinary arts, or family and consumer science. A food preparation certificate program is not the same as a traditional culinary program and does not focus on baking or creating recipes.
For many two-year colleges and trade schools, students need typically only prove that they graduated from high school or earned a GED in order to enroll. Universities and other four-year schools generally have more stringent prerequisites, such as the satisfactory standardized test scores. Some food preparation and food handler certificate programs accept only those students who have gained some kitchen experience, while others are open to beginners in the culinary world.
Certificate in Food Preparation
While enrolled in a food preparation certificate program, students must complete courses that teach them how to properly handle, prepare, and store items such as meats, vegetables, fruits, and dried foods. Other courses teach students the regulations behind cleaning and sanitizing kitchens and tools, keeping work surfaces and countertops clean, properly cutting food, and preparing simple meals, such as salads.
Students enrolled in a certificate program in food preparation learn how to stay safe in a commercial or industrial kitchen. They also learn the basics of food safety and sanitation. Some course topics addressed in such a program include:
- Food preparation
- Food purchasing, storage, and care
- Sanitation guidelines and kitchen safety
- Introduction to foodservice
- Restaurant internship
- Cost control operations
Popular Career Options
Careers are available for individuals who have completed a certificate program in food preparation. Most are entry-level, but do leave some room for advancement. Some examples include:
- Prep chef
- Food handler
- Chef de cuisine
- Kitchen or restaurant manager
- Personal or assistant chef
- Organizational or line cook
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated there were 873,900 food preparation workers in 2014. That figure was projected to increase by 6% from 2014-2024. The median annual wages for food preparation workers were $20,180, as reported in May 2015. Those working as chefs and head cooks were projected to see a 9% increase in jobs between 2014-2024, stated the BLS. The median annual wages for chefs and head cooks were $41,500, as reported in May 2015.
Food preparation certificates educate food preparation workers on how to safely handle food in a restaurant or home setting. These programs are offered through community colleges and trade schools, and generally take a year or less to complete.