The food service industry has become one of the fastest growing industries. Recent years has witnessed a mushroom growth in a number of restaurants and food chains. According to the National Restaurant Association, jobs in the food sector grew by 3.4% in 2012, which is higher than average. With a positive employment outlook, the industry offers many career opportunities to students who major in culinary arts.
The field of culinary arts has evolved due to advancement in science and technology and changing consumer trends.While most people assume culinary arts is limited to cooking and cuisine, the sector now incorporates health and nutrition, food processing, culinary technology, dining and presentation, and more. Such diversity has led to more career options for individuals.
The demand for culinary degree holders continues to grow. As the competition is high in the food industry, individuals with at least an undergraduate degree in culinary arts are preferred. Culinary degree programs provide individuals with the knowledge, training, and skills needed to be professionally competent in the food industry.
A bachelor’s degree in culinary arts is designed to equip students with fundamental cooking skills and a thorough understanding of culinary management. Students will be required to cover a range of topics with each topic or course shedding light on a specific aspect of the culinary field. As the field is ever-changing, undergraduate degrees in culinary arts are designed to cover new developments taking place in the food industry, enabling students to acquire in-depth knowledge of current trends. The curriculum may vary slightly from university to university.
Listed below are a few courses students are most likely to study in a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts:
Ecology of food
Marketing and promoting food
Global cuisines and cultures
Wine and beverage management
Food hygiene, safety, and sanitation
Students would be given an opportunity to gain practical experience and training. Many schools are fully-equipped with kitchen labs for training. Such hands on experience will help students develop cooking skills and practically implement cooking techniques. Students may also opt for culinary internships to gain professional experience and training.
Students, who cannot attend traditional culinary arts schools due to work and family commitments, can still pursue their academic goals with the help of online culinary degrees. Online bachelor’s degree in culinary arts is offered by many accredited online institutions. The coursework is covered via online tutorials and lectures. Online degrees have become popular and are in high-demand as they offer students the flexibility and convenience to study without compromising on other commitments.
Culinary arts students may deepen their expertise in a specific area or branch of the field. There are many specializations offered in culinary programs. Choosing a specialization may determine the career an individual wishes to pursue. For example, students who desire to work at administrative or management levels may opt for food service management as their specialization. Other popular culinary arts specializations include pastry making, culinary management, nutrition, and catering.
Job Outlook and Salary
An undergraduate degree may prepare students for the challenging and exciting careers in the rapidly growing food industry. Individuals may work for food service companies, restaurants, and food processing firms. Factors such as skills and specialization will play an important role in determining the position an individual may qualify for.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012, chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $42,480, whereas food service managers earned a median annual income of $47,960.
Apart from working at restaurants or other food organizations, individuals with a degree in culinary arts may start up their own food business. Many prefer to run their own catering companies, bakeries and pastry shops, etc.
Individuals in the culinary world can expand their career possibilities and options by further acquiring certifications and skills. A number of professional credentialing organizations offer professional certifications and apprenticeships in culinary arts. The American Culinary Federation and The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation are two of the leading credentialing organizations in the U.S.