Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career possibilities for graduates of a bachelor's in culinary arts degree program. Learn about the available programs, industry certifications, and salary ranges. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts?

A bachelor's degree program in the culinary arts can provide you with the training you need to work as a food preparation supervisor or worker, an executive chef, or a personal chef. These degrees are typically offered as a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, or a Bachelor of Professional Studies, with generous practical work. Programs emphasize cooking with many different types of ingredients and styles to ensure graduates are familiar with a wide variety of techniques and food. Below, learn about some possible careers that a bachelor's degree in culinary arts could prepare you for:

Food Preparation WorkersPrivate CooksExecutive Chefs
Key Responsibilities Prepare ingredients for cooks, take directions from cooks, keep kitchen area cleanPlan and prepare meals for individuals and families, work with clients to understand their dietary needsTrain all kitchen staff, develop menus, make sure kitchen area is a safe work space
Licensure Requirements Food handler's permitFood handler's permitFood handler's permit
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%1%9% (for all chefs and head cooks)
Median Salary (2015)* $20,180$26,300$39,283-$85,004** (2017)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Can I Expect in a Culinary Arts Bachelor's Degree Program?

Culinary arts is a field dedicated to cooking and baking techniques. You can earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Professional Studies, or a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts by completing 126-186 credit hours. Courses address business, cooking a variety of cuisines, and learning techniques to improve your cooking and manage food service programs. You may be required to complete hands-on training through internships.

Career Options for Culinary Arts Graduates

Entry-level culinary arts workers include food preparation workers, who are responsible for preparing ingredients for the cooks to use in recipes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These individuals are directed by chefs and supervisors for food preparation and serving. As a food preparation worker, you would be responsible for more than just the ingredients in the dishes, you would also be responsible for sanitation and retrieving kitchen items when directed to do so.

A cook in a private household is responsible for meal planning and preparation according to an employer's preferences, and may be responsible for preparing all of the meals for the household, according to the Occupational Information Network (http://online.onetcenter.org). Your job duties may include reviewing recipes, equipment maintenance and keeping records, according to Monster.com. The BLS projects 1% growth in employment of private household cooks from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).

With further training and experience, the BLS says that culinary arts graduates can advance from entry-level positions into executive chef positions. Executive chefs are responsible for training kitchen personnel, ensuring safety in the kitchen and planning menus.

How Much Can I Earn?

In 2015, food preparation workers reported earning a median of $9.70 an hour, with some earning less than $8.20 an hour, and others making more than $14.43 per hour, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that 862,740 food preparation workers were employed in a variety of settings, from full service restaurants to schools and grocery stores.

The BLS states that in 2015, cooks in private homes earned anywhere from $9.46-$37.33 per hour, for an annual salary of $19,670-$77,650. Data from the BLS shows that earnings vary depending on where a household cook is employed. For example, in the State of New York, cooks in private households reported earnings of $14.26 per hour, or $29,650 annually.

Executive chefs responding to a 2016 salary survey for the salary database PayScale.com reported base salary earnings of $39,283-$85,004, although their earnings depended on the type of business they were employed in. Earnings for executive chefs vary based on location as well. For example, in San Diego, California, executive chefs earned $62,842, whereas in Denver, Colorado, individuals in the same position reported earnings of $55,034, according to PayScale.com.

Are Professional Certifications Available?

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) grants two certifications to executive chefs, a Certified Executive Chef (CEC), or for a chef who possesses the CEC certification and complete testing, the Certified Master Chef (www.acfchefs.org). The ACF also offers certification for personal cooks. The Personal Certified Chef (PCC) and Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC) certifications require knowledge of menu planning, marketing, and 1-3 years of experience as a personal chef (www.acfchefs.org).

Initial certification requires that members and non-members pay a fee, provide documentation for their work history, education, and experience and complete both written and practical exams. Chefs must keep their certification current by completing the recertification process every five years. The process includes 80 continuing education hours over a five-year period, according to the ACF.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bakers are a specific kind of cook specializing in breads and pastries. While the basics are typically learned in culinary arts programs, some choose to specialize and work within bakeries. Restaurant managers are responsible for the daily activities within a restaurant, ensuring everything runs smoothly and employees do their jobs effectively and efficiently. While both of these choices require a minimum of a high school diploma and work experience, with postsecondary training optional.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Cornell University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Ithaca
  • University of Nevada

    Campus Locations:

    • Nevada: Las Vegas
  • University of Cincinnati

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Cincinnati
  • University of Charleston

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Charleston
  • The Art Institutes International-Minnesota

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • The Art Institute of Seattle

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Seattle
  • The Art Institute of Phoenix

    Campus Locations:

    • Arizona: Phoenix
  • The Art Institute of Philadelphia

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • The Art Institute of Michigan

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Novi
  • The Art Institute of Las Vegas

    Campus Locations:

    • Nevada: Henderson