With the COVID-19 pandemic now comfortably in the rearview, the hospitality industry is poised to make a comeback.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of trained culinary professionals will grow 15% by 2031, with more than 24,000 new positions for head cooks and chefs opening each year.
If you're considering formal culinary training, this guide closely examines culinary schools, how long they take to complete, and everything else you need to know to make your decision.
Types of culinary degrees
A culinary education opens many career opportunities within the hospitality industry, but schools may provide different types of degrees or education. Before making a choice, let's look at the three most common degree options culinary schools offer:
- Bachelor's Degrees in Culinary Arts are ideal for those who want to learn the basics of the hospitality industry and have a leg up when entering the field. Obtaining a Culinary Arts Bachelor's Degree adds to the employability of chefs, cooks, and front of house staff.
- Master's Degrees in Culinary Arts take it one step further, where you'll learn to master culinary principles and have the opportunity to train with upper-tier chefs. Master's studies also open doors for positions in restaurant, hotel, and food and beverage management, covering everything from food science to how to organize a corporate event.
- Associate's Degrees in Culinary Arts are most common for serious candidates hoping to become professional chefs. Programs cover kitchen theory and foundations, with a heavy focus on hands-on learning and real-life cooking scenarios.
Skills learned at culinary school
Culinary schools prepare you in theory, management, and food preparation principles. Here are some of the fundamental skills you'll learn at culinary school:
- Food preparation
- Customer service
- Time management
- Handling equipment
- Operations management
- Food science and nutrition
- Food presentation and plating
- Knife skills, blade styles, butchering techniques
- A wide range of cooking and baking practices, techniques, and cuisines
In addition to food science, theory, and preparation, culinary school teaches many other transferable skills, like time management and creativity, making it easier to find work in different sectors of the industry.
Commonly asked questions
Here are some of the most common questions people ask us about culinary school:
How long is culinary school?
Depending on the type of degree, school, and whether you're studying full-time or not, it can take several years to complete culinary school. While you can get diplomas from some specialized programs in under a year, a formal culinary education usually takes 2 to 4 years.
Where are the best culinary schools?
You can find culinary schools nationwide and some of the best schools have campuses in multiple states and cities. According to the 2023 rankings by Restaurant Clicks, some of the top schools are located in Texas and New York.
How expensive is culinary school?
Some culinary schools can cost upward of $50,000 for a three-semester program. Fortunately, many schools offer more reasonable options ranging between $18,000 and $38,000, depending on the program.
Is culinary school worth it?
Absolutely! Especially if you plan to work in hospitality. While plenty of jobs don't require a degree, getting a formal culinary education will teach you fundamental skills and invaluable insights, making you more employable and successful in your industry.
How to land a job post-culinary school
With your culinary degree in hand, finding a job is the next step. Whether you prefer diverse kitchen environments or staying in the same place to build experience and work your way up, there are plenty of job board sites where you can look for opportunities.
Additionally, signing up for a platform like Qwick will instantly connect you to hundreds of available freelance hospitality shifts ready for the taking!
How to build experience anywhere
Experience is king. And the more you have, the more options open up.
Learning the ins and outs of different kitchens and operations gives you a better sense of the overall industry, creating skills that are transferable everywhere. Finding opportunities to work in different environments is one of the best ways to build experience and establish yourself as a hospitality professional.
Doing this also gives you the flexibility to travel while maintaining your professional career. If one day you decide to move and find work at one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles or Nashville, you can!
Qwick: the ultimate partner post-culinary school
It takes one to know one when it comes to working in hospitality.
Developed and designed by industry professionals, we created Qwick to make life easier for you and everyone in the hospitality industry.
Whether you're considering a culinary education, are in the middle of your studies, or are a recent graduate, sign up for free with Qwick and get matched with available shifts that suit your skillset.