Culinary studies majors learn the art of preparing and serving food, and the business of food service. With a degree in culinary arts, you could work in a wide range of careers , from serving food to cooking it, managing a restaurant or other food service establishment, catering, or even working as a dietitian, nutritionist, or health educator. It all depends on what aspect of the culinary industry appeals to you, and how much education you earn.
What Will I Learn in a Culinary Arts Program?
First and foremost, your studies will include plenty of hands-on training in the kitchen, to understand the basics of food preparation, recipe development, and how to operate kitchen equipment. Your courses will also include food science, sanitation, menu planning and purchasing, basic food preparation and cooking techniques, and restaurant management. A culinary studies major usually leads to an associate’s degree. And while training from culinary schools or a cooking college isn’t always required for working in the field, promotions and higher earnings are more often provided to those with that training–particularly head chef or management positions. Dietitian or nutritionist jobs generally require bachelor’s degrees.
With 12.7 million employees nationwide, or 9 percent of the American workforce, the restaurant industry is one of the nation’s largest private sector employers. So although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average growth of 8 percent among food service jobs during the 2008-2018 period, 1.3 million jobs are expected to be added by 2020. The median annual wage for all food service and preparation occupations combined was $18,490, although the sheer number and range of jobs in this category means wide salary swings are possible.