Culinary Arts Certificate Program Information

Students interested in working in a professional kitchen may want to consider enrolling in a culinary arts certificate program. Check out what you'll learn in this type of program and what you can do with your training.

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Essential Information

Culinary arts certificate programs often include food preparation basics and theory but also include courses related to the administrative or management side of food service, such as food service operations or hospitality management. Many schools have on-campus kitchens or restaurant facilities where culinary arts students can practice techniques and gain experience. Programs lacking an on-campus kitchen may require an internship or off-campus work experience. Students may be required to purchase their own tools (such as knives) or uniforms before enrolling.

Most schools only allow a limited number of students at a time in these programs. Often, only a high school diploma or GED is necessary to enroll. Due to the hands-on nature of the courses, finding online certificates is difficult.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
  • Institutional Food Worker
  • Meat Cutting

Certificate in Culinary Arts

These programs in culinary arts generally last two semesters, but some intensive programs may take one semester to complete. As with most food preparation programs, culinary arts certificate programs involve a great deal of kitchen work, with students often being required to participate in internships.

Students in these programs learn to make large quantities of food and manage large events, in addition to learning about food safety. As preparation for working in a commercial kitchen, students learn about:

  • Basics of baking
  • Dining service
  • International foods
  • Nutrition
  • Sanitation

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 200,000 chefs, head cooks and bakers as of 2015. Among these, certificate holders were qualified to find work as:

  • Banquet cooks
  • Line cooks
  • Prep cooks

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Jobs forecasts from the BLS showed that the job outlook for in 2014-2024 for head chefs and cooks was anticipated to have 9% growth. The job outlook for the same period for bakers is 7%. As of the 2015 BLS report, bakers took home a mean annual wage of $26,270. At the same time - according to the same source - the mean annual salary of chefs and head cooks was $45,920.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Voluntary, 5-year certification is available to entry-level professional culinarians from the American Culinary Foundation ( Eligible candidates must be able to prove either that they have completed high school or that they have earned a certain amount of continuing education credits in a relevant field. Additionally, all candidates must have trained in sanitation and have worked for at least two years in the past decade in the culinary field.

Recertification requires proof of having taken a certain amount of continuing education credits. Those interested in continuing their culinary education in a formal setting can enroll in culinary arts as well as baking and pastry arts programs at the associate and bachelor's levels.

Culinary arts certificate programs include lecture-based courses and training sessions in professional kitchens. Graduates may be prepared for work as line or prep cooks, or they can go on to pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. Graduates may also qualify for voluntary certification.

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