(Eating Trends) – So you’ve made the decision to become a culinary professional. The next decision seems like it would be easy to do. Choose an institution to train you in the culinary arts. Seems simple enough. Select one of the famous and expensive culinary schools and BOOM…..the next Wolfgang Puck, Emeril or Rachel Ray is born.
But hold on, have you asked yourself some very important questions before jumping into $60,000 to $120,000 worth of debt? Because that amazing career right out of the gate rarely happens for anyone, regardless of where they went to school.
The purpose of this article is to list some necessary questions to ask yourself and do the research to answer them. I don’t believe the counseling in any secondary school system even begins to aid a student in making the proper choices to begin their career path. That’s why we have so many college grads leaving school with degrees that are not relevant to today’s workplace.
There is nothing wrong in aspiring to become a successful and renowned restaurant or hotel chef. But in many cases your culinary career takes different turns and you end up in positions you didn’t even know existed. That means you and your first degree need to be flexible for future educational and job opportunities. Not every culinary graduate ends up owning a wildly successful eatery, becomes a James Beard winner or gets a bunch of stars from Michelin.
Let’s list a few of the possible culinary careers you could end up in.
- contract food-service vendor
- healthcare food-service management
- hotel food and beverage director
- contract catering
- food sales
- corporate chef;
- culinary research
- and even grocery store chains
Each one of these jobs has some sort of further training needed to be successful. And there are hundreds more possibilities not even included on that list.
So now let’s take a look at that Q & A checklist. First question is ‘how much‘? Do I want to spend the $60,000 for a two year degree or do I attend a culinary program at a technical college for that same two year degree and spend $8,000 or $10,000? Chef Phil Bales Was kind enough to give me a tour of Wake Tech’s culinary facilities here in Raleigh, NC.
The facilities at Wake Tech not only offer all that is needed for your culinary education, they also gave me a sense of closeness between the students and the instructors. The Culinary Program at Wake Tech is ACF certified and is accredited by the necessary institutions. Whichever decision you make is not wrong. Choosing CIA, NECI or Johnson and Wales is the right decision if it is right for you. Understanding the correct amount of debt for you is an important consideration.
Next question is, ‘are the credits from my degree transferable and are they transferable out of State‘? This goes back to the other possible career paths. If your in healthcare food-service you may need to pursue a degree as a Registered Dietitian. If you enter into advanced management in hotels or contract food-service you may wish to return to school and get a Hospitality or Accounting Degree. Culinary research may require a science degree. Maybe you won’t need to if you become the next big name in the Culinary Kingdom, but at least you know you are prepared for any vagaries that come across your career path.
The final big question is, ‘what method of instruction does your target school employ‘? Does the school put its emphasis in on-the-job training or mostly hands on instruction or does it emphasize classroom learning with less time spent in actual OTJ applications? Neither mode is wrong, it just depends on how you learn in the most efficient manner.
There are other considerations of course which are of a personal nature. Can I leave my geographic area? Do I need to work while I attend school or do I have other responsibilities that affect my choosing a school? Make sure you consider all of it.
Whatever you choose, let me leave you with these sage words of advice, whichever road your career takes : “Live long and Prosper”. That’s not a joke, make sure your choices give you as much income and as much successful career longevity as possible. And never forget to have fun along the way.
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