Whether you are just now embarking on your journey towards a career, or you’ve had a job for years but are looking for you to change, culinary school could be the answer for you. By getting a degree in culinary arts, you can enjoy studies in a range of classes, from wine and cheese to baking and pastries to kitchen management. Once you graduate, often in two years or less, you will find a number of rewarding career opportunities awaiting you in the professional world. You can use your new skills to farm sustainable agriculture, write for a food column, design menus for a catering company, or whip up new creations in your own restaurant. If you’re planning on starting culinary school soon, keep in mind a few key tips for how to succeed both in school and beyond.
1. Start off by researching programs and choosing the right degree for you.
There are many more options out there than just “an associate degree in culinary arts.” Some schools offer associate or bachelor degrees. Others offer programs in culinary science or culinary arts, which usually include different courses and have separate emphases. Some schools offer traditional degrees, or ones in culinary management. You can find more information by researching various schools on a more in depth level than just degree title. If you look at the curriculum offered in each program, you might find that some focus more on different types of cuisines, which could be helpful if you’d like to work in a particular type of restaurant, such as Asian of Latin American. Some programs have more comprehensive courses that cover all different types of dishes, which could be helpful if you’re looking for maximum flexibility. You might also pay special attention to curricula that allows you to specialize in a specific concentration, such as pastry arts. This will come in handy if you’re planning on working solely in a bakery or specialty cake shop.
2. Don’t neglect more traditional classes.
Even though you’ll be attending culinary school for its classes related to cooking, many programs also offer more typical courses in communication, customer service, business, economics, finance, and writing. While it can be easy to dismiss these courses as less important because they don’t directly relate to culinary arts, resist the temptation to ignore these studies. After all, institutions wouldn’t include them in their curriculum if they weren’t important! Most occupations will require at least some degree of skill beyond how to execute a recipe to perfection. If you’re a chef, you’ll also need to know how to run a kitchen (business). If you own your own restaurant, you’ll have to oversee operations and maintain a profit (business, economics, and finance). If you’re a food writer or work on a cooking show, you’ll need to connect clearly with others and articulate yourself well (communication and writing). As you can see, you’ll be most successful if you approach all your studies with the same energy and enthusiasm.
3. Once you’ve graduated, consider obtaining a certification.
Although it is by no means a requirement, you can gain some points during an interview and give yourself an edge over competitors if you are certified in one or more specialties. You could earn a certification in other helpful skills, such as accounting, web design, or CPR. While these may not seem directly related to the culinary arts, depending on where you’re looking to work, they could pay off in a big way – especially if you’re looking to run your own business one day.