Culinary Arts

American consumers spend on average $2,505 per person dining out over the course of a year, which equates to roughly 10 percent of their annual income.

While the kind of hectic, on-the-go lifestyles most Americans lead today attributes to the surge in eating out, it is not the only reason.

Eating out, especially in fine-dining establishments, long has been seen as a way to celebrate a special occasion, or used as a reward for meeting a goal. Even business owners understand the merits of a good meal as part of the negotiation process with existing or new clients, often choosing to conduct business over a delectable meal.

But without the talented culinary artists who staff fine dining establishments, eating out would not be seen as a treat.

Education Requirements

There are a variety of training programs available for those who wish to work in the culinary arts. While a few establishments will hire candidates who have no formal training and allow them to work their way up through the ranks, most restaurants and eateries are requiring some kind of formal training.

Unlike other industry, the most accepted education in the culinary arts business is that of a two-year associate degree. Those who possess an associate degree are able to find employment as chefs or chef assistants.

There are a variety of technical and trade schools, as well as some community colleges, which offer associate degrees in the culinary arts. Due to the nature of the training, degrees are not able to be earned fully online for this profession. Common courses in an associate degree program in culinary arts include classic and artistic culinary techniques, safe food preparation and storage techniques and kitchen management skills.

Those who aspire to work as head chefs, or to manage their own establishment, will require a more advanced degree in the culinary arts.

A Bachelor of Science degree in the culinary arts will provide not only the basics of culinary education, but also in-depth training in business management, financial management and marketing and promotions.

Those who wish to pursue a graduate degree in the culinary arts are able to do so through a number of quality programs, both online and traditional. The majority of schools which offer an advanced degree of this nature do so in an online format, which allows working professionals to earn an advanced degree while continuing to work in their current positions.

Students who have an interest in the culinary arts but do not wish to work as a chef in a restaurant have other options available to them. They can work as caterers or food critics, using their knowledge of the food industry to enable them to perform their job.

Regardless of how they intend to use their degree, students are advised to select a program that has received accreditation. The American Culinary Arts Education Foundation Accrediting Commission is the accrediting body for culinary arts programs.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for qualified culinary artists is expected to remain flat over the next decade due to cost-cutting measures being instituted by restaurants and other food-service establishments. The easiest way to cut costs is to reduce staff, which the bureau attributes to the sluggish growth rate for this industry.

Competition for jobs is expected to be fierce, with those possessing the greatest skills and highest level of education expected to have an easier time securing jobs in the industry. The average annual salary for culinary artists ranges between $40,000 and $70,000.

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