Career Information for a Degree in Culinary Arts or Culinary Services

Degrees in culinary arts or culinary services typically cover food service management, baking and pastry arts, culinary math, nutrition, sanitation topics. Find out about about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for culinary arts program graduates.

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Many people love food, and fortunately, there are many ways to turn that love into a career. A degree in culinary services or culinary arts can eventually lead to work as a head chef, a pastry chef, or a sous chef. There are also opportunities to earn certifications in general or specific areas of cooking and to specialize in other areas such as restaurant management or wine and beverages.

Essential Information

Individuals who enjoy cooking, baking and creating tasty delights may find culinary arts careers an ideal choice. Formal training programs at the certificate or associate's degree level allow students to create and sample as they learn. Relevant program titles may include but are not limited to culinary arts and culinary services.

Career Titles Chefs and Head Cooks Pastry Chefs (Bakers)
Education Requirements Variable; culinary arts certificate or degree, or apprenticeships Variable; culinary or technical school certificate or degree, or apprenticeships
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%* 7%*
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $41,500* $24,170*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Individual who complete apprenticeships or formal education in culinary arts have a number of career options. Although they might start out in entry-level positions, they could work to become sous chefs and, later, head chefs or pastry arts specialists.

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Career Information for Culinary Arts or Culinary Services Professionals

Those with degrees in culinary arts or culinary services may find employment in a variety of settings, including leadership positions. Possible employment positions include head cooks, pastry chefs and sous chefs. Head cooks or pastry chefs have many responsibilities beyond devising recipes and creating delicious meals. They may also hire and train other kitchen staff and oversee that everything is operating smoothly in the kitchen. It is also their responsibility to ensure all safety and sanitation codes are met.

Career or Salary Outlook for a Culinary Arts Graduate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for chefs and head cooks are expected to grow at a faster than average rate, with 9% growth between 2014 and 2024; bakers were predicted to see a 7% growth during that same time. The BLS also reported that head cooks and chefs earned a median annual wage of $41,500 and bakers earned a median salary of $24,170 as of 2015.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements for culinary arts or culinary services vary depending on an individual's career aspirations. Students may pursue certificate or degree programs in various areas of culinary arts. Public and private programs are available for those interested in learning wine and beverages, baking and pastry arts or food service management. Course topics include safety and sanitation, culinary math, nutrition, banquet cooking, specialty breads, cultural cuisine and food service technology. In addition to coursework, students complete seminars and receive hands-on learning working in the kitchen.


Certification is a way for individuals to demonstrate their competence in culinary arts or specific areas of culinary services. The American Culinary Federation offers such titles as Certified Culinarian, Certified Master Chef, Personal Certified Chef, Certified Pastry Culinarian and Certified Master Chef.

The type of work you eventually want to do will determine the type of education and certification you pursue in the culinary arts. You can choose from certificate or degree programs as well as hands-on learning as an apprentice. Career options vary widely and include cooking, baking and food service management positions.

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