If you love cooking and trying new recipes, and you’re not sure what you want to do with your professional life, then it might be worth exploring a career in the culinary arts.
There are many famous chefs who are self-taught or have little in the way of formal education, but these cases are not common. A culinary degree, or at least some sort of culinary education, will shorten your journey to becoming a chef or earning another exciting job in the food industry.
Almost everyone can cook basic foods, but when it comes to culinary arts, one needs specialized skills and knowledge. Culinary arts jobs refer not only to cooking, but also to preparation and presentation of food. Besides, careers in culinary art are not necessarily strictly related to food – they can also be about nutrition or even something more specific, like commercial kitchen design.
In this article, we will discuss possible culinary careers and salaries as well as give some guidelines on preparing yourself for culinary arts careers.
Culinary degree jobs can be roughly divided into four categories:
- Management and supervising careers in culinary arts.
- Food quality assurance positions.
- Jobs that are related directly to food preparation and cooking.
- Food technology jobs.
We’ll give you a rundown of careers in each of these categories. If you’re into food, think about this as a career exploration activity. Imagine yourself in these roles, and see what fits your vision.
Management career opportunities in cooking
Corporate chef - A corporate chef is responsible for menu development and management of a restaurant and its branches. This job earns a median salary of about $70K.
Executive chef - This role is related to management of all food and beverage operations for a kitchen. An executive chef is also responsible for task delegation and menu selection. The median salary is more than $55K.
Executive sous chef - An executive sous chef coordinates each aspect of food production to ensure the highest quality of dishes. An executive sous chef typically earns about $50K.
Executive pastry chef - This position supervises the creation of baked goods and desserts in a pastry shop, catering company, or restaurant. The median salary is about $50K.
Food service director - A food service director is responsible for the functioning of general dining services. The median salary reaches $50K.
Chef de cuisine - This position deals with all kitchen-related processes, such as menu development, preparation work, and final plate examination. The median salary is about $50K.
Cooking instructor - With a median salary of about $45K, a cooking instructor teaches the students who are getting a culinary degree at the college level.
Restaurant manager - This role is responsible for managing the staff, interacting with food suppliers, and supervising all processes in a restaurant, with a median salary of about $45K.
Head chef - Head chefs work in a range of different niches and are responsible for training the employees and ensuring that their work meets the quality standards of their employers. A median salary of a head chef is about $43K, but it can raise well above that.
Kitchen manager - A kitchen manager is responsible for kitchen equipment, safe working conditions at the kitchen and compliance with quality standards. The median salary is about $40K.
Catering manager - This position is responsible for all processes of a catering service, with a median salary of about $40K.
Food quality assurance culinary careers
Food safety manager - This person is responsible for safe handling and storing of food as well as evaluating and monitoring the quality of the food. The median salary varies from $45K to $60K.
Food taster - A food taster can also be called a sensory analyst. They evaluate the quality of a food item by taste and smell. A median salary of a food taster is about $43K.
Jobs that directly involve food and drink preparation
Personal chef - A personal chef is typically invited to personal home settings to prepare meals for individuals and families. A personal chef earns about $40K.
Baker - This role is responsible for creation of pastry, desserts, and breads at a bakery shop, restaurant, or other eating establishments. A baker’s median salary is about $30K.
Line cook - A line cook works in fast-paced environments to efficiently prepare food that meets the restaurant’s standards. The median salary is about $26K.
Prep cook - This entry-level role involves preparatory works for the head chef, such as measuring ingredients that will be used in cooking. The median salary of a prep cook is about $24K.
Grill cook - A grill cook is a kitchen employee that specializes in grill work to prepare specific menu items, with a median salary of about $19K.
Bartender - A bartender is responsible for mixing drinks at a bar and can work at any location, from a luxury restaurant or hotel to a low-key pub. Their salary depends on location and tips and can vary between $7 and $20 per hour.
Barista - A barista is responsible for preparing coffee and coffee drinks at a coffee house. This role also implies the knowledge of different types of coffee beans and roasting processes. The median salary is about $10 per hour.
Food technology jobs
Food scientist - This role involves researching the production, testing, and consumption of food, with a median salary of about $60K.
Food technologist - A food technologist is responsible for research and creation of new types of foods and flavors. The median salary is about $50K.
Sommelier - A sommelier is a wine consultant who is aware of each and every aspect of quality wines. They typically work in upscale restaurants, hotels, and other retail locations where quality wines are sold. Their median salary is about $48K.
Preparing for a Culinary Degree
If you feel the urge to pursue one of the culinary careers, the Julian Krinsky Cooking School may be an option for you.
Based at Villanova University in the Philadelphia region (which is a culinary hotspot in its own right), the cooking school offers both the residential and day programs. You will participate in hands-on classes under the guidance of expert chef instructors. They will begin with basic instruction, then move on to specialty and advanced preparation.
After taking this step, be ready to master culinary techniques such as knife skills, mise en place and plate presentations. The program will also educate you on colleges where you can get a culinary degree.
Here are the highlights of the culinary program:
- The Business of Cooking
- Tasting Seminars
- Ninja Knife Skills
- Interesting Pairings
- The Art of Presentation
- How to Mine a Cookbook
- Gadgets and Gizmos
- Classic vs. Trendy
- Flavors of the World
- Eating Like a Food Critic
- Cook Offs and Competitions
- Learn from Guest Chefs
Browse our website or contact us to learn more. We would be happy to see you mastering new skills in our cooking school.
If you’ve looked through all of these culinary careers, and aren’t feeling pulled to any one profession, check out the rest of our summer programs, and see if anything strikes your interest.