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Culinary and Cooking Schools (Chef Schools)

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Chefs and Culinary Professionals

The term chef is most commonly used to refer to an individual who has received specialized culinary arts training, and who typically works in mid-tier to fine dining eating establishments with table service and where food is "cooked to order". Training, especially for chefs employed in high-end restaurants, can be quite extensive in comparison to the on-the-job training of most cooks.

Chefs picture    Chefs image

Culinary and Cooking Schools

Shorter term culinary arts programs may be found at technical education schools, as well as culinary and cooking schools. Completion of these programs helps culinary professionals obtain entry-level positions in the field where they can work their way up to becoming a chef. Here are a list of 3 culinary and cooking schools that confer certificates, diplomas and associate degrees. All are accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

  • Bishop State Community College: This community college in Mobile, Alabama offers an associate degree in commercial food service.
  • Cascade Culinary Institute: This culinary institute in Bend, Oregon offers a specialized associate degree in baking and pastry.
  • Paul Smith's College: Located in the Adirondacks of New York, this college offers students an associate degree in the culinary arts.

Chef Schools

Chefs, especially those who intend to work in table-service restaurants and fine dining establishments, can in some cases work their way up to the role with an associate degree and several years of work experience under their belt. Alternatively, many choose to attend four-year culinary programs that lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The following three schools offer a bachelor's in the culinary arts and are accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

  • The Art Institute of California-Sacramento: This campus of Argosy University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary management.
  • The International Culinary School: Located in Texas within the Art Institute of Houston, this school offers a Bachelor of Science in food and beverage management.
  • Johnson and Wales University: Culinary arts students at this university are given the opportunity to perform internships at university-owned or affiliated hotels and restaurants. The school offers a bachelor's degree in culinary nutrition.

Culinary Education Requirements

Chef training schools prepare you to meet the relevant culinary education requirements. You'll develop your expertise in the kitchen as well as the classroom, learning culinary techniques and restaurant management skills.

Most culinary programs require a high school degree and some selective culinary institutes prefer candidates with some industry experience. The curriculum covers general academic knowledge, applied cooking skills, and culinary business fundamentals. Courses cover:

  • Recipe and menu planning
  • Food preparation and cooking techniques
  • Regional cuisines
  • Supervising and training kitchen assistants
  • Kitchen management, including resource and supplies planning
  • Food presentation
  • Sanitation and food safety regulations
  • Culinary business skills (accounting, marketing, budgeting and finance, etc.)

In addition, chef training programs may provide instruction in nutrition, purchasing and inventory software, and specialized chef techniques. Specialized elective courses include wine and sommelier training, pastry chef training, bread baking, sous vide cooking, flavor dynamics, buffet presentation, and more.

Culinary Certification and Training

Though certification is not required, it can help demonstrate proficiency in the field. The International Association of Culinary Professionals also offers the Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) credential. In addition, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) offers the following certifications:

  • ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification
  • Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) Certification

Most culinary arts programs include a significant amount of hands-on training. Internships/externships, or working in school run restaurants is also frequently part of culinary arts programs. The American Culinary Federation also operates apprenticeship programs lasting two or three years that combine on-the-job training with technical classroom instruction.

Working side by side with an established chef, you'll have the opportunity to apply your formal training in practice. The mentorship and professional contacts you gain from this apprenticeship can have a major impact on your career prospects. As you review chef training schools, take into account their networking and apprenticeship programs.

Chef Certifications and Training

Chefs in training can expect to spend substantial amounts of their training in a lab kitchens gaining valuable hands-on expertise. While food services establishments must obtain and maintain many different types of licenses such as department of health licensing and certification, it is not necessary for chefs to be licensed. Many may have to attend sanitation and safe food handling courses designated by the department of health as a requirement for a restaurant's licensing, however.

Certification can, hoewver, add an important credential for those individuals trying to obtain top-tier jobs where the competition can be very keen. The American Culinary Federation offers the following certification credentials for chefs:

  • Certified Culinarian (CC)
  • Certified Sous Chef (CSC)
  • Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC)
  • Certified Executive Chef (CEC)
  • Certified Master Chef (CMC)
  • Personal Certified Chef (PCC)
  • Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC)

Resources for Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Sources:

  1. American Culinary Federation, http://www.acfchefs.org/ACFSource/Education/Postsecondary.aspx
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chefs and Head Cooks, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-and-head-cooks.htm
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Cooks, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/cooks.htm
  4. Johnson and Wales, https://academics.jwu.edu/college-of-culinary-arts/

The Top Cities tab shows employment statistics for Chefs and Culinary Professionals by major metro area.

The Top Industries tab shows which industries have the most jobs for Chefs and Culinary Professionals, along with salary data by industry.

The Browse Schools tab lets you search for schools by field of study, degree level, and location.

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Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Chefs and Culinary Professionals relative to the population of the city, as of 2008. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Relative Popularity of 1.0 means that the city has an average number of the particular job, for its population, compared to the rest of the US. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs of that type.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Metro Area Jobs Salary
(2013)
Relative
Popularity

Alabama

     
Auburn 0 $43580 0
Opelika 0 $43580 0
Huntsville 0 $35650 0
Daphne 50 $44300 0.79
Fairhope 50 $44300 0.79
Foley 50 $44300 0.79
Birmingham 170 $51390 0.36
Hoover 170 $51390 0.36
Mobile 40 $34820 0.25
Montgomery 90 $50260 0.62

Alaska

     
Anchorage 290 $33980 1.74
Fairbanks 0 $50970 0

Arizona

     
Flagstaff 90 $42740 1.69
Phoenix 1640 $38990 0.93
Mesa 1640 $38990 0.93
Scottsdale 1640 $38990 0.93
Prescott 60 $37410 1.18
Tucson 400 $30420 1.18

Arkansas

     
Hot Springs 50 $36310 1.43
Little Rock 210 $37970 0.68
North Little Rock 210 $37970 0.68
Conway 210 $37970 0.68

California

     
Bakersfield 0 $24800 0
Fresno 230 $43410 0.73
Chico 70 $38230 0.97
Oxnard 290 $40860 1.05
Thousand Oaks 290 $40860 1.05
Ventura 290 $40860 1.05
Redding 0 $32780 0
Riverside 1280 $46340 1.04
San Bernardino 1280 $46340 1.04
Ontario 1280 $46340 1.04
Sacramento 1310 $43010 1.59
Roseville 1310 $43010 1.59
Arden 1310 $43010 1.59
Arcade 1310 $43010 1.59
Salinas 240 $51940 1.58
Los Angeles 6830 $37440 1.29
Long Beach 6830 $37440 1.29
Anaheim 6830 $37440 1.29
Madera 40 $30890 1.16
Modesto 90 $41870 0.6
Napa 180 $45420 2.79
San Diego 1980 $41530 1.56
Carlsbad 1980 $41530 1.56
Santa Cruz 160 $35620 1.92
Watsonville 160 $35620 1.92
Santa Maria 180 $55470 1.07
Santa Barbara 180 $55470 1.07
Santa Rosa 280 $45220 1.59
San Francisco 3790 $43710 1.85
Oakland 3790 $43710 1.85
Hayward 3790 $43710 1.85
Stockton 80 $39500 0.4
Lodi 80 $39500 0.4
San Jose 940 $50380 0.99
Sunnyvale 940 $50380 0.99
Santa Clara 940 $50380 0.99
Vallejo 230 $31560 1.98
Fairfield 230 $31560 1.98
Visalia 90 $41210 0.66
Porterville 90 $41210 0.66
San Luis Obispo 240 $36190 2.31
Paso Robles 240 $36190 2.31
Arroyo Grande 240 $36190 2.31

Colorado

     
Fort Collins 90 $46950 0.67
Grand Junction 40 $38710 0.67
Boulder 220 $39100 1.34
Colorado Springs 210 $54220 0.84
Denver 1320 $42760 1.02
Aurora 1320 $42760 1.02
Lakewood 1320 $42760 1.02

Connecticut

     
Hartford 680 $47320 1.25
West Hartford 680 $47320 1.25
East Hartford 680 $47320 1.25
New Haven 200 $49410 0.76
Waterbury 60 $34810 1.02
Bridgeport 520 $38060 1.33
Stamford 520 $38060 1.33
Norwalk 520 $38060 1.33
Danbury 250 $42800 3.4

Delaware

     
Dover 40 $41700 0.73

Florida

     
Gainesville 50 $50600 0.4
Jacksonville 390 $46770 0.66
Cape Coral 370 $55140 1.68
Fort Myers 370 $55140 1.68
Crestview 190 $49940 2.04
Fort Walton Beach 190 $49940 2.04
Destin 190 $49940 2.04
Deltona 90 $46810 0.54
Daytona Beach 90 $46810 0.54
Ormond Beach 90 $46810 0.54
Orlando 1350 $50850 1.29
Kissimmee 1350 $50850 1.29
Sanford 1350 $50850 1.29
Palm Bay 170 $46220 0.91
Melbourne 170 $46220 0.91
Titusville 170 $46220 0.91
Panama City 0 $56770 0
Pensacola 70 $40130 0.47
Ferry Pass 70 $40130 0.47
Brent 70 $40130 0.47
Port St. Lucie 130 $0 1.02
Lakeland 110 $46430 0.54
Winter Haven 110 $46430 0.54
Miami 2600 $51120 1.14
Fort Lauderdale 2600 $51120 1.14
West Palm Beach 2600 $51120 1.14
Naples 360 $53840 2.94
Immokalee 360 $53840 2.94
Marco Island 360 $53840 2.94
North Port 530 $0 2.08
Sarasota 530 $0 2.08
Bradenton 530 $0 2.08
Ocala 40 $42400 0.42
Sebastian 80 $54780 1.72
Vero Beach 80 $54780 1.72
Tallahassee 70 $43730 0.45
Tampa 790 $43610 0.69
St. Petersburg 790 $43610 0.69
Clearwater 790 $43610 0.69
The Villages 80 $60070 3.52

Georgia

     
Athens 160 $22890 2.19
Clarke County 160 $22890 2.19
Atlanta 2500 $30270 1.08
Sandy Springs 2500 $30270 1.08
Roswell 2500 $30270 1.08
Gainesville 0 $28760 0
Brunswick 50 $34380 1.38
Macon 0 $24110 0
Savannah 140 $34310 0.92
Valdosta 0 $32620 0
Warner Robins 0 $27880 0

Hawaii

     
Kahului 270 $46010 4.05
Wailuku 270 $46010 4.05
Lahaina 270 $46010 4.05
Urban Honolulu 1250 $30670 2.94

Idaho

     
Boise City 400 $29740 1.49
Idaho Falls 0 $30800 0
Coeur d'Alene 50 $32120 0.99

Illinois

     
Bloomington 0 $37540 0
Carbondale 40 $37310 0.78
Marion 40 $37310 0.78
Champaign 70 $53310 0.74
Urbana 70 $53310 0.74
Peoria 180 $31560 1.1
Rockford 130 $41470 0.94
Springfield 40 $24620 0.38

Indiana

     
Fort Wayne 80 $36130 0.4
Bloomington 60 $37200 0.99
Indianapolis 860 $35890 0.92
Carmel 860 $35890 0.92
Anderson 860 $35890 0.92
Terre Haute 70 $35410 1.1

Iowa

     
Ames 40 $46770 0.94
Iowa City 110 $35550 1.36
Cedar Rapids 100 $29500 0.74
Des Moines 190 $34700 0.58
West Des Moines 190 $34700 0.58
Dubuque 120 $29590 2.25
Waterloo 30 $36810 0.36
Cedar Falls 30 $36810 0.36

Kansas

     
Lawrence 80 $40180 1.8
Topeka 140 $35430 1.4
Wichita 0 $29760 0

Kentucky

     
Owensboro 60 $34990 1.22
Lexington 150 $46700 0.62
Fayette 150 $46700 0.62

Louisiana

     
Alexandria 40 $74400 0.69
Baton Rouge 190 $39950 0.51
Houma 90 $37980 0.99
Thibodaux 90 $37980 0.99
Lafayette 110 $26880 0.56
Lake Charles 150 $31540 1.67
Monroe 50 $25570 0.64
New Orleans 610 $30270 1.17
Metairie 610 $30270 1.17
Shreveport 120 $37890 0.73
Bossier City 120 $37890 0.73

Maine

     
Lewiston 0 $42420 0
Auburn 0 $42420 0
Portland 210 $37190 1.11
South Portland 210 $37190 1.11
Bangor 60 $38890 1.02

Maryland

     
Baltimore 1290 $46540 1.04
Columbia 1290 $46540 1.04
Towson 1290 $46540 1.04

Massachusetts

     
Leominster 90 $36300 1.91
Gardner 90 $36300 1.91
New Bedford 80 $40440 1.34
Pittsfield 70 $53710 1.95
Barnstable Town 150 $49270 1.63

Michigan

     
Ann Arbor 130 $57780 0.68
Flint 140 $32850 1.12
Grand Rapids 310 $36750 0.63
Wyoming 310 $36750 0.63
Detroit 1540 $36510 0.86
Warren 1540 $36510 0.86
Dearborn 1540 $36510 0.86
Saginaw 40 $34460 0.56
Lansing 230 $43660 1.19
East Lansing 230 $43660 1.19
Kalamazoo 50 $31970 0.41
Portage 50 $31970 0.41
Niles 50 $52770 0.8
Benton Harbor 50 $52770 0.8

Minnesota

     
Rochester 60 $39180 0.55
St. Cloud 50 $45540 0.57

Mississippi

     
Gulfport 230 $38530 1.7
Biloxi 230 $38530 1.7
Pascagoula 230 $38530 1.7
Hattiesburg 80 $23240 1.46
Jackson 170 $51280 0.7

Missouri

     
Columbia 80 $41950 0.99
Springfield 50 $51540 0.25

Montana

     
Billings 60 $39690 0.78
Missoula 100 $29190 1.81

Nebraska

     
Lincoln 110 $47930 0.66

Nevada

     
Carson City 30 $46370 1.32
Reno 450 $43640 2.36
Las Vegas 2800 $48040 3.29
Henderson 2800 $48040 3.29
Paradise 2800 $48040 3.29

New Hampshire

     
Manchester 100 $47330 0.97

New Jersey

     
Atlantic City 390 $55660 3.31
Hammonton 390 $55660 3.31
Ocean City 90 $47220 2.53
Trenton 240 $39660 1.14

New Mexico

     
Albuquerque 160 $34600 0.45
Las Cruces 0 $28920 0
Santa Fe 110 $56480 1.91

New York

     
Albany 600 $42540 1.46
Schenectady 600 $42540 1.46
Troy 600 $42540 1.46
Glens Falls 100 $42810 2.01
Ithaca 130 $41900 2.78
Buffalo 580 $31140 1.15
Cheektowaga 580 $31140 1.15
Niagara Falls 580 $31140 1.15
Binghamton 90 $48430 0.92
Elmira 30 $35600 1.03
Kingston 170 $35370 3.18
Rochester 560 $35500 1.18
Syracuse 190 $39610 0.67
Utica 260 $24700 2.3
Rome 260 $24700 2.3
Watertown 0 $35730 0
Fort Drum 0 $35730 0

North Carolina

     
Asheville 150 $40980 0.89
Fayetteville 40 $39500 0.34
Greensboro 150 $40550 0.45
High Point 150 $40550 0.45
Hickory 60 $36910 0.46
Lenoir 60 $36910 0.46
Morganton 60 $36910 0.46
Durham 160 $38810 0.6
Chapel Hill 160 $38810 0.6
Raleigh 320 $44680 0.61
Wilmington 30 $43260 0.3
Winston 100 $39360 0.43
Salem 100 $39360 0.43

North Dakota

     
Bismarck 70 $42030 1.05

Ohio

     
Akron 170 $38870 0.56
Canton 60 $36110 0.41
Massillon 60 $36110 0.41
Cleveland 800 $41030 0.84
Elyria 800 $41030 0.84
Columbus 640 $39250 0.68
Dayton 160 $41940 0.45
Lima 0 $34900 0
Mansfield 30 $23510 0.68
Toledo 220 $43510 0.8

Oklahoma

     
Oklahoma City 360 $45730 0.64
Tulsa 420 $30650 1.03

Oregon

     
Bend 70 $37110 1.13
Redmond 70 $37110 1.13
Corvallis 40 $36720 1.35
Eugene 120 $38750 0.9
Salem 50 $45080 0.37
Medford 140 $31940 1.85

Pennsylvania

     
Gettysburg 60 $30810 2.11
Harrisburg 160 $39190 0.55
Carlisle 160 $39190 0.55
Bloomsburg 0 $54190 0
Berwick 0 $54190 0
Johnstown 0 $43960 0
East Stroudsburg 50 $43420 0.98
Erie 90 $43030 0.74
Pittsburgh 1070 $40950 1
Reading 110 $44850 0.69
Lancaster 190 $41870 0.88
Scranton 100 $38990 0.42
Wilkes 100 $38990 0.42
Barre 100 $38990 0.42
Hazleton 100 $38990 0.42
State College 70 $30370 1.11
York 100 $44800 0.61
Hanover 100 $44800 0.61

Puerto Rico

     
Arecibo 30 $22580 1.29
San Juan 520 $29330 0.81
Carolina 520 $29330 0.81
Caguas 520 $29330 0.81

South Carolina

     
Florence 50 $23070 0.61
Greenville 390 $35000 1.09
Anderson 390 $35000 1.09
Mauldin 390 $35000 1.09
Hilton Head Island 140 $44800 2.09
Bluffton 140 $44800 2.09
Beaufort 140 $44800 2.09
Charleston 910 $26100 3.07
North Charleston 910 $26100 3.07
Columbia 290 $34510 0.85
Spartanburg 160 $22540 1.24

Tennessee

     
Jackson 50 $28500 0.79
Johnson City 70 $33700 1.05
Cleveland 0 $22460 0
Knoxville 530 $22400 1.51
Morristown 0 $22630 0
Nashville 770 $37620 0.93
Davidson 770 $37620 0.93
Murfreesboro 770 $37620 0.93
Franklin 770 $37620 0.93

Texas

     
Abilene 0 $21600 0
Amarillo 110 $27280 1.06
Austin 1070 $35940 1.23
Round Rock 1070 $35940 1.23
Houston 2650 $40080 0.96
The Woodlands 2650 $40080 0.96
Sugar Land 2650 $40080 0.96
Beaumont 60 $72280 0.4
Port Arthur 60 $72280 0.4
Brownsville 0 $19190 0
Harlingen 0 $19190 0
College Station 90 $33190 0.92
Bryan 90 $33190 0.92
Corpus Christi 100 $24260 0.56
Dallas 2290 $41910 0.74
Fort Worth 2290 $41910 0.74
Arlington 2290 $41910 0.74
El Paso 90 $38940 0.34
San Antonio 550 $46840 0.62
New Braunfels 550 $46840 0.62
Lubbock 50 $48910 0.37
McAllen 90 $40590 0.41
Edinburg 90 $40590 0.41
Mission 90 $40590 0.41
Killeen 0 $37060 0
Temple 0 $37060 0
Sherman 0 $31600 0
Denison 0 $31600 0
Tyler 40 $37220 0.4
Waco 90 $20910 0.84

Utah

     
Provo 80 $37250 0.42
Orem 80 $37250 0.42
Salt Lake City 450 $41470 0.73
Ogden 0 $30770 0
Clearfield 0 $30770 0

Vermont

     
Burlington 70 $41840 0.59
South Burlington 70 $41840 0.59

Virginia

     
Blacksburg 0 $22900 0
Christiansburg 0 $22900 0
Radford 0 $22900 0
Harrisonburg 50 $35960 0.81
Charlottesville 110 $43240 1.16
Richmond 550 $36980 0.94
Roanoke 130 $36270 0.88
Lynchburg 80 $31160 0.88
Staunton 0 $38150 0
Waynesboro 0 $38150 0

Washington

     
Bremerton 50 $0 0.66
Silverdale 50 $0 0.66
Bellingham 60 $48840 0.82
Mount Vernon 50 $42550 1.19
Anacortes 50 $42550 1.19
Olympia 110 $31240 1.12
Tumwater 110 $31240 1.12
Seattle 1400 $48820 0.82
Tacoma 1400 $48820 0.82
Bellevue 1400 $48820 0.82
Spokane 120 $39660 0.6
Spokane Valley 120 $39660 0.6
Wenatchee 0 $36950 0
Yakima 50 $40740 0.58

West Virginia

     
Morgantown 50 $63840 0.88

Wisconsin

     
Appleton 90 $22310 0.8
Green Bay 90 $49090 0.6
Janesville 0 $23250 0
Beloit 0 $23250 0
Racine 0 $32370 0
Madison 270 $35820 0.76
Milwaukee 660 $35580 0.84
Waukesha 660 $35580 0.84
West Allis 660 $35580 0.84
Sheboygan 90 $33220 1.64
Wausau 30 $41430 0.5
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Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Chefs and Culinary Professionals

To find out more about building a career as Chefs, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

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Most Popular Industries (as of 2008) for:
Chefs and Culinary Professionals

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industry Jobs Percent Salary
(2008)
Restaurant 68,060 69% $36,570
Hotel And Accomodation 12,100 12% $44,380
Amusement Gambling And Recreation 7,240 7% $45,020
Government 2,970 3% $54,990
Education 1,250 1% $36,340
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  • Programs: Culinary Arts Specialist, Culinary Arts Professional, Baking and Pastry Specialist
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Culinary Schools by State

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Chefs and Culinary Professionals.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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