If you're interested in creating well-prepared foods or bold cosmetic designs, a career in culinary arts or cosmetic sciences may be a good fit for you. Find information about job growth and potential earnings here, as well as what type of formal training you'll need to enter these specialized fields.
If you find yourself improving recipes or conceiving of new ways to prepare food, several career opportunities exist in culinary services. You can become a chef, line cook or baker. You can also work outside of the kitchen in such jobs as catering, restaurant management or food research. Academic programs designed to prepare you for a culinary career usually offer internship opportunities that you can use to decide which job fits you best.
Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 10% growth in job openings for cooks in general from 2012-2022. Although the field is competitive, the ability to prepare more sophisticated dishes may lead to employment in a chain restaurant, high-end establishment or a hotel. The BLS has also projected a 5%, or slower-than-average, growth in jobs for chefs and head cooks through 2022. Creative candidates with good business skills and prior work experience may enjoy the competitive advantage at higher-paying casinos, fine restaurants and hotels.
As reported by the BLS in May 2013, the median annual salary for a restaurant cook was $22,160; chefs and head cooks earned $42,490. Minimal to no change in employment was expected for food service or restaurant managers, who earned a median annual salary of $48,080 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov).
Though you could find an employer that will provide on-the-job training, culinary certificate and degree programs could give you an edge over the competition. These programs teach you correct food sanitation procedures and how to prepare various foods, such as breads, pastries and cultural dishes. An undergraduate degree in culinary arts might also include instruction in kitchen and staff management, menu planning and food budgeting. You can gain hands-on cooking experience through lab sessions, and you might be able to complete your internship at a local dining establishment or an on-campus restaurant or cafeteria.
With a bachelor's degree, you could seek advanced studies through a graduate certificate or a master's degree program in gastronomy, culinary arts or hospitality management with a culinary emphasis. Graduate studies usually offer you the option to concentrate your studies in such areas as cultural influences on food, food production or business leadership. Some graduate programs also include internship opportunities as well as dedicated research in your field of interest.
In addition to training and formal education, another option that could make you more appealing to potential employers is professional certification. Earning a credential is voluntary, and organizations, such as the American Culinary Foundation (ACF), offer you a variety of certifications. For example, ACF certifications include cooking options for sous chefs, executive chefs, personal chefs or master chefs, as well as baking designations, such as working, executive and master pastry chef. The organization you choose for certification will have specific requirements that can include a combination of training, professional experience and a demonstration of your abilities.
Jobs in cosmetic services are as plentiful as those in the culinary arts. Working in a salon, you could become a hair stylist, makeup artist, manicurist or esthetician. If you're interested in research, you might work in cosmetic sciences to create new products, such as makeup or perfumes. Cosmetic studies programs at the undergraduate level introduce you to basic hair and skin care, hair cutting and styling techniques or makeup applications. In a graduate program, you could focus on the chemistry behind different products to discover what makes them effective.
According to the BLS, employment of cosmetologists and hairstylists nationwide was expected to increase by 10% from 2012-2022, which is about average. Opportunities for skin care specialists were expected to grow by a dramatic 40% in the same period. In May 2013, hair stylists and cosmetologists earned a median annual salary of $23,140, while those who specialized in skin care took home $28,940 a year (www.bls.gov).
Certificate or associate's degree programs in cosmetology teach you how to cut, color and style hair, apply makeup, perform manicures and manage a salon. Some schools offer short certificate programs that focus on one or two cosmetology specialties, though associate's degree programs usually cover multiple areas. You'll practice in the school's lab, but you could participate in an internship at an actual salon.
Bachelor's degree programs in cosmetology aren't common and usually focus on cosmetology instruction or business management. If research is your passion, enrolling in a master's degree program in cosmetic sciences or a similar field could allow you to focus on fragrance or cosmetic chemistry. You might also opt to take courses in management, marketing or education, depending on your career goals.
Many cosmetic service careers require that you obtain state licensure to practice. Earning an esthetician or cosmetology license usually requires that you complete formal education and demonstrate competence in your chosen field through written or practical exams. You can prepare for licensure by completing a certificate or degree program in a number of fields.