With food becoming a hot topic these days, Culinary Arts Degrees are becoming more and more popular, and schools are popping up everywhere. This might seem like a glamorous career change, especially if you work in a boring office, but there are some things to consider before investing in an expensive Culinary Arts Degree.
First of all, unlike a lot of professions, you don't need a degree to work in the industry. In fact, restaurants are always hiring, and if you are passionate about food and cooking, even starting out as a dishwasher can start your career as a professional chef, and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to do it.
Getting a Culinary Arts degree is not just about learning to cook. It's a combination of cooking classes and business classes related to the food industry. You won't learn how to cook for your family; instead you'll learn how to cook in restaurants and for larger groups of people. It's serious business; you'll have to take food safety courses, culinary math, as well as numerous purchasing classes, all of which can be pretty boring if all you want is to learn how to have dinner parties with rave reviews.
If you're a family person, be prepared to arrange family time around late night schedules that require working weekends and holidays. Restaurant jobs are not 9-5 jobs, so if this is the lifestyle you're used to, be prepared for a lifestyle change.
Working in restaurants is not as glamorous as celebrity chefs and the Food Network make it out to be. In reality, you'll be working long shifts in a hot kitchen with few breaks and low pay.
Speaking of pay, the restaurant industry is not one of the highest paying out there. It doesn't have to be bad and there are jobs in the food industry that pay well, but when you factor in the cost of school ($20,000 on the low end) and the fact that you'll probably lose two years of full time work while you're in school, you might be better off skipping it and just trying to work your way up on your own. Lots of people do it, in fact some of the best chefs out there don't have Culinary Arts degrees.
If you're the type to change your mind a lot, a Culinary Arts degree is not something that is easily transferable. There are a lot of different jobs in the food business, so you don't necessarily have to work in restaurants, but it is a specialized degree that most other industries won't be impressed by.
Whatever you decide, going to culinary school is not a decision to make lightly. It's expensive and you'll be working in an industry that doesn't always value people with high pay. If you are passionate about food and want that extra push to help break your way in the business, and don't mind paying for it, then a Culinary Arts degree will be a good investment for you. If you're okay with starting at the bottom and working hard, you can achieve the same results in about the same amount of time, in which case, I would suggest skipping it.
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