A bachelor's degree in culinary arts prepares one for several career options in the food industry. Kitchen managers, chefs of various degrees, and catering managers are all careers that can stem from a bachelor's in culinary arts.
Graduates of 2-year associate's degree programs in culinary arts can often find entry-level food preparation jobs. However, individuals desiring more competitive, challenging and/or higher-paying positions, such as kitchen or culinary manager, sous chef or catering manager, should consider completing a 4-year bachelor's degree program in culinary arts. However, some employers do accept varying amounts of practical experience in lieu of degree completion.
|Career Titles||Kitchen/culinary manager||Chef (executive, sous, pastry…)||Catering manager|
|Education Requirements||High school diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree||High school diploma, apprenticeship, associate's degree or bachelor's degree||High school diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024*)||5% (for all food service managers)||9% (for all chefs and head cooks)||5% (for all food service managers)|
|Median Salary (2016**)||$48,209||$43,864 (for sous chefs)||$45,052|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com
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Career Options for Culinary Graduates
A bachelor's degree in culinary arts gives graduates the credentials and knowledge needed to advance in catering and restaurant environments. Possible career paths include moving into management positions or taking on more responsibility in the kitchen. In addition to the culinary jobs described here, chefs and food experts who have graduated from a bachelor's degree program might consider educational roles, small business ownership or even sales, television or magazine work related to cooking and cuisine.
These professionals oversee kitchens in a variety of places including colleges, secondary schools, hospitals and nursing homes. They have the responsibility for hiring new employees and training them. In addition to this, they must manage details of other departments that affect their kitchens.
A sous chef plays assistant to the executive chef, who is the head of the kitchen. Sous chefs operate as second-in-command and take over when the executive chef isn't there. They work in conjunction with the executive chef and must be able to fully run the kitchen. This includes duties such as keeping accurate inventory, hiring and training employees, purchasing supplies and inventory, planning menus and overseeing the working staff. Assistant pastry chefs have much the same duties but specialize in a different area of cooking.
Catering managers work in the hospitality industry and collaborate with establishments to help plan the food portion of events. These individuals must negotiate with clients to get contracts and assist with menu choices. Catering managers direct events and oversee the work of others in addition to scheduling the staff and acquiring the necessary equipment to fulfill a contract. They must participate largely in customer relations to ensure that customers are satisfied throughout the steps included in the contract. This keeps them coming back and helps build ongoing business for the company.
Salary Information and Job Growth
According to Salary.com, the median salary for a kitchen manager was $48,209 in August 2016. Many employers sought individuals with high school diplomas and 2-4 years of experience in relevant areas for these positions, but additional schooling such as the culinary bachelor's degree can be interchangeable with job experience.
According to Salary.com, sous chefs earned a median salary of $43,864 per year as of August 2016. Many employers required a bachelor's degree in a relevant area and some experience for sous chef positions. Catering managers earned a median salary of $45,052 at that time. Like the sous chef positions, catering management opportunities typically require a bachelor's degree in a relevant areas and prior experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for all chefs and head cooks was expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024. Employment of all types of food service managers was expected to increase 5% over the same time period.
A bachelor's degree in culinary arts offers preparation for management positions in a commercial kitchen, with training in business topics as well as in cooking and baking. In addition to a degree, experience is important. Salaries in the food industry are not high, and jobs are expected to increase steadily through 2024.