Food Writing Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

A food writer must demonstrate superior writing skills as well as a knowledge of the culinary arts. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

A bachelor's degree is typically required to pursue a career as a food writer. Culinary authors will need a degree or certificate from a culinary institute, while restaurant critics may have training in journalism. Food and nutrition writers need a degree in nutrition or food science.

Essential Information

People with a passion for food and a gift for descriptive writing may want to combine the two skills into a food writing career. Food writers can author cookbooks or write restaurant reviews, to name a few career options. Writers often use digital technology to create their own blogs or websites that deal with the subject of food.

Career Restaurant Critic Culinary Author Food and Nutrition Writer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degrees often required for larger publications Degree or certificate from a culinary institute Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% (for reporters and correspondents) 2% (for writers and authors) 10% (for technical writers)
Median Salary (2015)* $36,360 (for reporters and correspondents) $60,250 (for writers and authors) $70,240 (for technical writers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program who wish to pursue a career in food writing have several career options to choose from. They can be restaurant critics, culinary authors or food and nutrition writers. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of each career.

Restaurant Critic

Many newspapers and magazines publish regular reviews of restaurants. Restaurant critics are responsible for visiting the establishments in question and writing unbiased evaluations of the food, atmosphere and service offered. Many restaurant critics work on a freelance or part-time basis and submit reviews once or twice a month. The Association of Food Journalists stated that food critics should follow the same ethical standards that apply to other journalists. They should strive to portray accurate information in a balanced way.

A restaurant critic must be willing to sample a wide variety of foods made by a variety of preparation methods. A bachelor's degree in journalism or English is needed to gain a job as a food critic for most major publications. However, smaller newspapers, magazines or websites may employ people without formal training if they have a proven flair for descriptive writing. A number of colleges and universities offer continuing education classes or extension courses in food writing, which offer participants a chance to find out what the job is all about.

Culinary Author

People who like to prepare food and create recipes may be able to write about their experiences in a blog, newspaper column or cookbook. Famous chefs can command large publishing contracts for the books they write, but non-celebrity writers may be able to find ways to share their knowledge with others as well. Graduates of culinary institutes can put their knowledge to work by researching or writing books and articles about food. They may also test recipes and share them in a newspaper or online forum.

Publishing houses need food editors who can review proposals for new cookbooks and take a project from its contract phase through completion. Most major newspapers have a food editor as well, and many magazines need someone to edit content for a food or recipe section.

Culinary authors need a good background in the principles of cooking and strong communication skills. They also need to be aware of current trends and consumer preferences in the food industry.

Food and Nutrition Writer

Those with degrees in nutrition, food science or a related field may have opportunities to write for health and nutrition websites or publications. Students in these programs often study the chemical makeup of food in a laboratory setting and prepare meals in a test kitchen. They may concentrate on food safety, nutrition, food production or product development. Pursuing a minor in communications or journalism is good preparation for a writing career in this niche.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, science writers, including those who write about food and nutrition, may work for for-profit or non-profit organizations and need the ability to write in many different styles. They may compose press releases, newsletters, informational articles or direct mail campaigns.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median salary of $60,250 for writers and authors in general. From 2014-2024, the BLS predicted slow job growth of 2% for writers and authors.

Restaurant critics sample food and write articles about the quality of the food and service they experience. Culinary authors create recipe books or articles. Food and nutrition writers promote health and nutrition through press releases and other types of informational articles. Although jobs for restaurant critics may decline from 2014-2024, authors can expect nominal job growth, while the job growth for food and nutrition writers is expected to be faster than average when compared to all occupations.

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