Culinary School: Is It for You?

Education
a row of potential chefs taste their dishes in a culinary school

If you have a passion for cooking and love entertaining guests, you may have toyed with the idea of attending culinary school. And if you enjoy cooking every day and want to make a job of it, chances are you’ve looked at a few schools that offer the necessary training to become a chef. Before you decide if culinary school is the right educational and career decision for you, here are a few things to consider.

Costs

The cost of culinary school is one of the main factors to consider when you’re deciding if this is the right choice for you. According to Eater.com, the average cost of culinary school is $13,230 per semester. You can expect to spend $52,920 for four semesters, which will earn you an associate’s degree, or $105,840 to obtain a bachelor’s. Most schools offer a variety of payment plans and financial aid, and some institutions even provide scholarships. Taking an honest look at your budget and the financial assistance you’re eligible for will help you determine when and if you should enroll.

Time Commitments

Culinary school is similar to a traditional college or university in that you will likely take anywhere from two to four years to obtain your degree. Most schools require that you have 600 hours completed before graduation. You can also take an additional 30 hours in specialized courses to showcase your particular skills and interests. The time it takes to complete school is also a significant consideration if you are transitioning from another career or have family obligations, so keep this in mind when choosing a school.

Opportunities

Although not every chef or restaurant owner is a graduate of culinary school, the skills and training you’ll receive will likely give you the confidence to pursue your career goals and find fulfillment doing what you love. For instance, you could become a pastry chef at a restaurant or bakery. You can secure a pastry chef job with either a two- or four-year degree, and you’ll likely have to participate in an apprenticeship before being hired full-time.

You can also become a private chef and prepare meals for individuals and families. This is ideal if you don’t want to work for a restaurant and enjoy connecting with people on a personal level. As a private chef, you’ll likely be called on to cater parties and events as well. If you do prefer to work in a restaurant setting, your culinary arts degree will qualify you to become an executive chef. In addition to your two- or four-year degree, you’ll also need significant experience in your field to advance in this career.

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