AAS in Culinary Arts: Degree Program Overview

Oct 10, 2019

Essential Information

An AAS in Culinary Arts program can help a students prepare for a career in both cooking and restaurant management. Students gain fundamental kitchen skills and food preparation knowledge, and they also have opportunities to participate in internships. Associate's degrees in culinary arts often lead to professional careers in food preparation, but students may also pursue additional educational opportunities.

Students are generally required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent before applying to a two-year associate's degree program.

AAS in Culinary Arts

An AAS program can provide students with an entry into the competitive culinary arts field. Students have the opportunity to study both cooking techniques as well as the business topics necessary to managing a restaurant. They also acquire skills in ordering ingredients, inspecting ingredient quality, preparing sauces, cooking hot foods and baking pastries. Training may also cover ways to manage a kitchen or restaurant, operate professional-grade equipment and appliances, and understand the nutritional value of foods. Coursework for the degree may include the following:

  • Culinary principles
  • Baking
  • Nutrition
  • Food safety
  • Menu planning
  • Food purchasing

Popular Career Options and Salary Information

Graduates of AAS degree programs in culinary arts are prepared for entry-level positions in the food service industry. They may pursue the following careers:

  • Chef
  • Caterer
  • Baker
  • Sous chef
  • Menu planner
  • Restaurant manager

Employment opportunities for chefs and head cooks are expected to grow by 11%, and opportunities for food service managers may grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from the BLS shows the job growth rate for bakers is likely to be 6% during the 2018-2028 decade.

The BLS reports bakers earned a median salary of $26,520 in 2018, and chefs and head cooks were paid a median salary of $48,460 that year. The median salary for food service managers was $54,240 in 2018, based on figures from the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

After completion of an AAS program, students can further develop their culinary skills by pursuing bachelor's degrees in the culinary arts. These programs teach in-depth culinary preparation techniques and sophisticated business skills related to owning or operating a restaurant.

Individuals who have completed bachelor's degrees can pursue master's degree programs in food studies. These programs focus on theory and scholarship, rather than food preparation. Students learn about the relationship between cultures and food, and methods used in food production. Prospective chefs may also wish to pursue voluntary certification from the American Culinary Federation.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Culinary Arts degree programs provide aspiring chefs and bakers with the knowledge they need to enter the food service industry, such as nutrition, kitchen operations and food safety. Graduates can further their skills in the culinary arts by going on to pursue bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and voluntary industry certifications.

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