Culinary Cooking Career Guide

Those entering into a culinary career need to know the ins-and-outs of the industry to be successful. To do this, a person needs to know what culinary professionals do, where they obtain training as well as where they can find employment. It is important to keep in mind that there are different types of culinary professionals, meaning that the training they receive will somewhat differ from others in the same industry. 

What is a Culinary Professional?

Most times, a culinary professional is referred to as a chef; however, this title oftentimes doesn't hold true to the real work that a person may carry out. In fact, a more appropriate term would be "kitchen manager." Chefs not only prepare food, but they also take inventory, create employee schedules, clean the kitchen, create menu items and much more. 

Some culinary professionals have little or no training before they enter into the cooking industry. On the other hand, for those working in higher-end restaurants and establishments, training through culinary arts cooking schools is almost always required. In fact, depending on the food items being prepared, it may or may not be legally mandated for a person to have formal training before becoming a chef. 

Job Characteristics

No matter what line of work a culinary professional enters into – pastry chef, line cook, kitchen manager, etc. – there are certain job characteristics that are usually found within almost all dining establishments. The only reason these characteristics would differ for a cooking professional is if he or she worked as a cooking teacher or a private cook for someone. 

- Cramped conditions
- Always working alongside others
- Long work hours
- Work on weekends
- Work all day on one's feet
- Work holidays
- Work with and around hot appliances

Formal Training and Education

To make sure that a person will succeed as a culinary professional, it is pertinent that he or she obtain formal training and education through an accredited culinary school. Early preparation for a culinary career can start as soon as high school by taking culinary classes. The length of time that culinary degree programs last usually range from several months to several years. A shorter program will tend to result in a student earning a diploma or certificate. Longer programs can result in an actual degree being earned. 

When it comes to working in the top tier of the culinary industry, a person will benefit the most from earning a bachelor's degree or higher. Such degree programs tend to focus on a wide range of culinary-related topics as well as the following:

- Food service entrepreneurship
- Restaurant management
- Food service management
- Hospitality

Those who go to school to earn a formal education should expect to spend a lot of time taking part in hands-on training. Some culinary programs will mandate that a student complete an apprenticeship or internship under a trained culinary professional before being allowed to graduate. The hands-on training portion of a culinary program can usually be completed through a wide range of outlets, including hotels, spas, casinos, country clubs, restaurants and more. 


In addition to earning a culinary diploma or degree, it can be very advantageous to earn a certificate. This type of credential is required by some dining establishments. When it comes to certifications, the following types are offered through the American Culinary Federation:

- (CEC) Certified Executive Chef
- (PPC) Personal Certified Chef
- (CC) Certified Culinarian
- (CMC) Certified Master Chef
- (CSC) Certified Sous Chef
- (PCEC) Personal Certified Executive Chef
- (CCC) Certified Chef de Cuisine
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