Culinary Arts Overview

Imagine yourself working in a bakery pulling a batch of fresh bread from the oven, or as a cook in a busy restaurant, preparing filet mignon, chicken parmesan or butternut squash soup. If you have a passion for food and love spending time in the kitchen, you may want to consider a major in Culinary Arts.

As a Culinary Arts student, you will learn everything you need to know to become a top chef. Along with classes in food science, nutrition, baking, menu planning, and garde manger, you will also study hospitality, facilities management, and business administration to give you the skills to cook, as well as manage a restaurant property.

Maybe you have a passion for a certain type of cooking? Don't worry, general Cooking and Related Culinary Arts is not the only specialization available to you. You can choose to concentrate in Baking and Pastry Arts, Bartending, Chef Training, Catering Management, Food Preparation, Meat Cutting, Food Service, Dining Room Management, Culinary Science, and Wine Stewardship/Sommelier.

Required Skills

Chefs set the pace in the kitchen. This means leadership skills are mandatory. You must be prepared to oversee staff to ensure all meals are cooked efficiently and only the best quality meals leave the kitchen. Successful chefs are also creative and have strong time management skills. Good business skills are just as important as cooking skills for executive chefs.

Chefs often work full time with long hours both during the week and on weekends. Since executive chefs oversee food delivery, cooking and plan the menu, they can sometimes put in 12-hour workdays.

In order to become a head chef, you must work your way up. A part-time job as a line cook or dishwasher will expose you to the kitchen environment and allow you to pick up some skills from the other cooks. Training at a school and the following apprenticeship will refine these skills. Work experience along with advanced education will allow students to find jobs as executive chefs or head cooks. Although it's not necessary, certification by The American Culinary Federation may attract the attention of more employers.

This major is available as an Associate's or Bachelor's degree. Depending on your career goals, an associate's degree along with work experience may be sufficient training. However, if you seek a more advanced position or want to run your own business, a Bachelor's may be helpful.


Graduates with a degree in Culinary Arts often work in restaurants, hotels, or as private chefs. Some have gone on to open their own restaurants and start their own catering services.

Although job opportunities are good for graduates, the field has not and is not expected to see any growth. Jobs at high-end venues, such as restaurants, hotels, and casinos, will be extremely competitive since they are limited and the pay is greater.

Graduates with a degree in Culinary Arts have an average starting salary of $33,016 and a mid-career salary of $51,187.

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Related Majors

Explore all the majors withing the field of Personal & Culinary Services

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Culinary Arts might open up.

Butchers and Meat Cutters
Chefs and Head Cooks
Cooks, All Other
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria
Cooks, Private Household
Cooks, Restaurant
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers
Food Scientists and Technologists
Food Service Managers
Postsecondary Teachers, All Other
Slaughterers and Meat Packers
Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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