Culinary Arts Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-2915 min read

Culinary arts careers are concerned with the preparation, decoration, and presentation of food.

Professionals in the culinary industry create and serve a variety of dishes to wide-ranging customers in different settings.

Culinary arts experts are mostly employed in the hospitality industry, manufacturing facilities, and food service industry.

Why Choose Culinary Arts?

Some reasons why you should consider choosing a career in culinary arts are as follows:

  • According to labor statistics, about 2.4 million jobs open to culinary professionals yearly.
  • The median wage of culinary arts professionals is $28,400 annually according to the BLS report. However, some culinary careers pay more than $50,160.
  • You enjoy maximum job satisfaction and employment freedom no matter the culinary career path you take.

How to Start your Culinary Arts Journey

If you enjoy cooking, then it might be a pointer to kickstart a rewarding culinary arts career.

Culinary careers may depend solely on your food preparation skills but completing a culinary arts degree is a great way to begin your journey.

A culinary degree sets you apart in the competitive food service job market.

You can also develop relevant culinary arts skills by watching videos, reading food blogs, or generally consuming culinary resources online.

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate degree in all culinary arts careers typically runs for two years. This degree is popularly held by most culinary professionals.

An associate degree program equips learners with basic cooking skills, kitchen equipment handling techniques, menu development, etc.

You’ll require a high school diploma or GED to undertake an associate degree in culinary arts.

Bachelor’s Degree

You’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree program in food science or any culinary degree of your choice to thrive in the industry.

A bachelor’s degree provides theoretical and practical knowledge of food preparation and presentation methods.

Top culinary professionals like executive chefs and head cooks hold a bachelor’s degree. Also, it makes scaling their career paths easy.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in culinary arts sets you up for higher paying jobs in your culinary career.

As a culinary professional with a master’s degree, you can choose to prepare food in high-end restaurants or pursue other rewarding culinary arts careers.

Master’s degree holders are often the head chefs in the food service industry who oversee other junior chefs due to their advanced skills and knowledge.

Doctorate in Culinary Arts

Experts in the Food service industry with a doctorate can access most of the highest paying culinary jobs.

You can serve as a research chef who undertakes an in-depth study of the culinary process and testing of new kitchen products or menus.

A doctorate also provides a thorough understanding of the culinary industry.

Employment Prospects

Culinary professionals will continue to enjoy a high demand for their expertise because of the increasing number of businesses in the hospitality industry and man’s desire for fine dining.

The bureau of labor statistics above projects an 11 percent employment growth in culinary arts careers between 2021 and 2031.

Culinary Arts Career Forecast

The future employment landscape of culinary arts is positive as noted above by the bureau of labor statistics.

Food service providers will be required to cater for events, private residences, and other establishments.

Hence, a boom in the culinary industry is expected with about 1.3 million new jobs in different culinary careers.

Lucrative Culinary Arts Career Paths

Sous Chef

Sous chefs assist the head chef in the preparation and serving of food in a kitchen or restaurant industry.

Average Salary

A sous chef earns an annual average salary of $41,819. Although the 75th percentile has the opportunity to earn up to $57,000 aside other additional income from bonuses and tips.

Roles and Responsibilities

The sous chef is responsible for the following:

  • Collaborate with head cooks or kitchen manager in food preparation and menu development
  • Get the kitchen ready and keep ingredients handy
  • Follow instructions given by the head chef

Industries Employing Sous Chefs

Industries that hire sous chefs include:

  • Hospitality
  • Food service industry

Restaurant Manager

A restaurant manager oversees, organizes, and controls the daily activities and employees of a restaurant to ensure smooth operation.

Average Salary

Restaurant managers earn an annual average salary of $49,723. Professionals in restaurant management may earn more than $70,000 depending on geographic location, experience, and skills.

Roles and Responsibilities

The restaurant manager is responsible for the following:

  • Supervise staff operations
  • Perform human resource functions like hiring, training, and firing of staff
  • Take inventory and make purchases
  • Plan menus
  • Prepare a budget to reflect food costs

Industries Employing Restaurant Managers

Industries that hire restaurant managers include:

  • Hospitality
  • Food service

Pastry Chef

A pastry chef (also called dessert chef) creates, designs, and presents baked goods and other pastries in a food service establishment.

Average Salary

The annual average salary of a pastry chef is $36,399. However, the most likely pay range of pastry chefs falls between $32,000 and $48,000 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

The pastry chef is responsible for the following:

  • Restock pastry ingredients before they run out
  • Decorate pastries like cookies to suit the occasion or customer
  • Provide desserts to diners
  • Assist in preparing food when necessary

Industries Employing Pastry Chefs

Industries that hire pastry chefs include:

  • Bakery
  • Hospitality
  • Food service industry

Food Stylist

A food stylist specializes in arranging and decorating food in an aesthetically appealing way for customers or advertorial purposes.

Average Salary

A food stylist earns, on average, $44,273 yearly. Also, a food stylist enjoys additional income of about $13,871 annually from bonuses and commissions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The food stylist is responsible for the following:

  • Creatively prepare and photograph food
  • Meet and discuss with clients about the ideas for a project
  • Shop for ingredients needed to style the food
  • Determine the geographic location and creative process of a food photoshoot

Industries Employing Food Stylists

Industries that hire food stylists include:

  • Multimedia companies
  • Food blogs
  • Hospitality


Nutritionists offer expert advice on dietary requirements and design meal plans suitable for clients with varying needs.

Average Salary

The median annual salary of a nutritionist is $61,650 according to labor statistics. The top 10% of nutritionists earn over $93,640 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

A nutritionist is responsible for the following:

  • Critically assess the nutritional needs of clients
  • Develop healthy meal plans to meet these needs
  • Encourage clients to pursue their dietary goals
  • Contribute to research and discussions on nutritional science
  • Organize events and write materials to promote healthy lifestyle

Industries Employing Nutritionists

Industries that hire nutritionist include:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality industry
  • Education

Event Caterers

Event caterers provide and serve food and beverage at events.

Average Salary

The average base salary of event caterers in the UK is £26,318 yearly. An event caterer may earn more depending on geographic location and experience level.

Roles and Responsibilities

An event caterer is responsible for the following:

  • Meet with clients and event planners to discuss menus for an event
  • Assists event managers to organize events
  • Shop food ingredients ahead of a planned event
  • Prepare, preserve, and serve food
  • Move cooking equipment to and from an event

Industries Employing Event Caterers

Industries that hire an event caterer include:

  • Catering companies
  • Hospitality industry

Personal Chef

Personal chefs plan, cook, and serve special meals for clients in the client’s kitchen or at theirs.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of personal chefs is $47,272. Personal chefs also make additional income of $4,041 from bonuses, tips, or commissions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The personal chef is responsible for the following:

  • Plan specialized meals for clients to meet dietary requirements
  • Prepare and package food to be consumed later
  • Clean the kitchen area before and after use
  • Shop for groceries and ingredients
  • Serve as the chef de partie in big restaurants

Industries Employing Personal Chefs

Industries that hire personal chefs include:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality industries
  • Food service

Cake Decorator

A cake decorator creates beautiful and edible designs on cakes using fondant, frosting creams, and candies.

Average Salary

Cake decorators earn, on average, $33,088 annually. Nevertheless, the pay range of cake decorators is between $30,000 and $40,000 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

A cake decorator is responsible for the following:

  • Obey all food safety measures
  • Develop and design creative designs for cakes and other baked goods
  • Work in pastry shops to help create beautiful pastry arts
  • Meet with clients to share ideas and cake decoration themes

Industries Employing Cake Decorators

Industries that hire cake decorators include:

  • Food service industry
  • Event management companies

Food Safety Managers

Food safety managers supervise the preparation, packaging, and presentation of food to ensure quality control and food safety.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of food managers is $61,349. They may earn additional income of up to $14,453 annually from bonuses, commissions, and tips.

Roles and Responsibilities

The food safety manager is responsible for the following:

  • Oversee the chefs and head cooks during the preparation of food
  • Ensure the menu meet standard food safety regulations
  • Inspect cooking environment to ensure compliance to sanitary guidelines
  • Monitor the serving of quality food to customers

Industries Employing Food Safety Managers

Industries that hire food safety managers include:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Food vendors

Food Scientists

Food scientists research innovative and efficient ways to enhance the productivity of agricultural products and agro-based institutions.

Average Salary

Experts in food science earn a median salary of $74,160 annually. The top 10% of food scientists earn above $128,160 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

Food scientists are responsible for the following:

  • Research ways to improve the efficiency of the food industry
  • Experiment innovative food and beverage combinations before they hit the market
  • Provide research reports to appropriate bodies
  • Ensure the preparation and circulation of quality food

Industries Employing Food Scientists

Industries that hire food scientists include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Agrotech companies


Winemakers oversee the production, tasting, and packaging of wine to meet customers’ demands.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of winemakers is $63,606. A winemaker enjoys an estimated additional salary of $18,644 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

The winemaker is responsible for the following:

  • Supervise the wine production process from the manufacturers to the final consumers
  • Inspect wine manufacturing facilities regularly
  • Manage wineries
  • Winemakers may have to maintain vineyards
  • Support other restaurant careers by producing wines that meet their customers’ needs

Industries Employing Winemakers

Industries that hire winemakers include:

  • Wineries
  • Manufacturing
  • Food service

Restaurant Host/Hostess

A restaurant host/hostess is a customer’s first experience of a restaurant who is in charge of welcoming them into the establishment.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of restaurant hosts/hostesses is $34,148. The typical total salary of restaurant hostesses and hosts ranges between $31,000 and $43,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

The restaurant host/hostess is responsible for the following:

  • Plan and organize events happening in the restaurant
  • Usher restaurant guests to their seats
  • Monitor the chef de partie or line cook to ensure food preparation meets customer’s specification
  • Provide customers the food and beverage menu

Industries Employing Restaurant Hosts/Hostesses

Industries that hire restaurant hosts/hostesses include:

  • Hospitality
  • Restaurant industry

Wine Sommelier

A wine sommelier collaborates with restaurant managers to develop the perfect wine list to pair with customer’s food order.

Average Salary

A wine sommelier earns an average annual wage of $48,727. Wine sommeliers make additional income of up to $26,344 yearly from bonuses, tips, and commissions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a wine sommelier include:

  • Provide trainings to junior staff on wine description, storage, and presentation
  • Provide customers the ideal wine for them and their food choice
  • Assist the food stylist during wine photoshoots

Industries Employing Wine Sommeliers

Industries that hire wine sommeliers include:

  • Food service industry
  • Bars
  • hospitality

Food Technologist

The food technologist designs and develops food products and strategies for food storage and processing.

Average Salary

The average annual income of food technologists is $48,855. A food technologist’s total salary may be above $57,299 depending on geographic location.

Roles and Responsibilities

A food technologist is responsible for the following:

  • Ensure compliance to safety and health regulations
  • Manufacture new food products to enhance the culinary world
  • Research innovative methods of food preparation, preservation, packaging, and processing

Industries Employing Food Technologists

Industries that hire food technologists include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Education
  • Agriculture

Purchasing Coordinator

Purchasing coordinators manage and supervise the shopping of food supplies, ingredients, and general stocking of businesses in the food industry.

Average Salary

The annual average salary of purchasing coordinators is $48,499. Some purchasing coordinators earn more than $61,000 yearly depending on their geographic location or experience.

Roles and Responsibilities

The purchasing coordinator is responsible for the following:

  • Make scheduled trips to grocery stores for restocking of food products and supplies
  • Develop budget to reflect prevalent food costs
  • Manage food and beverage deliveries to customers
  • Review inventory and respond to sales enquiries

Industries Employing Purchasing Coordinators

Industries that hire purchasing coordinators include:

  • Hospitality industries
  • Retail
  • Food service


A barista prepares and serves coffee or other coffee-based beverages.

Average Salary

The national average salary of a barista is £31,880. The 75th percentile of baristas may earn $44,000 and above annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

The barista is responsible for the following:

  • Make and attractively serve customers coffee
  • Keep all beverage-making equipment clean
  • Suggest different coffee types to customers

Industries Employing Baristas

Industries that hire baristas include:

  • Food service providers
  • Hospitality

How to Boost your Culinary Arts Career

Enhancing your culinary arts career is a great way to get some of the highest paying culinary jobs.

However, you must first determine the culinary career you wish to major in and embark on proper culinary training in that field.

Complete a culinary degree to develop in-demand skills. Gain hands-on experience by working under culinary professionals like chefs and head cooks.

Or you can set up food trucks to offer food services privately.

Pros and Cons of Culinary Arts Careers

The following are some pros and cons to consider before you choose any of the culinary careers:


  • Although holding a relevant degree is important in the culinary industry, no formal training is required to start
  • Maximum freedom to utilize your creativity
  • Employment flexibility. For instance, an executive chef can work in any food service industry globally
  • Positive career and employment growth prospect
  • You can work for yourself (e.g. own food trucks)


  • Highly competitive industry
  • Long working hours including during holidays
  • Poor remuneration for low-ranking food service providers
  • Exposure to risks like knife accidents, fire hazards, or cooking oil splashes
  • Overwhelming expectation for tasty and quality food by customers

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Culinary Arts

Studying culinary arts will expose you to some relevant skills like

Budgeting and Planning

To excel in any of the culinary careers of your choice, you need to develop your budgeting and planning skill.

A culinary arts professional is expected to develop budgets capturing food costs and the organization’s revenue. The budget serves as a guide for planning and running the day-to-day operations smoothly.


Food styling and other culinary arts careers demand 100% creativity. You are required to creatively utilize ingredients while maximizing food costs.

For instance, an executive chef may develop innovative cooking methods, create new recipes, or refurbish old menus in ways that customers will enjoy.

Time Management Skills

Food industry careers highlight the need for time management skills.

A culinary professional in an establishment is often overwhelmed by customer orders and strict wait times. You must strive to meet up these time frames to satisfy impatient customers.

You’re expected to maximize the time allocated for food preparation.

Interpersonal Skills

The culinary world is a people-focused industry. Hence, you need excellent interpersonal skills to thrive in most food industry careers.

Communicating with subordinates or other members of staff is inevitable in this field. You must be able to send and receive information from customers and staff.

Attention to Detail

Apart from a sharp business acumen to boost patronage, a culinary professional must possess keen attention to detail.

Food and beverage should be prepared, packaged, and presented how customers prefer them.

Attention to detail will help you identify food service errors before any loss is incurred.

How to Prepare for a Culinary Arts Career

Planning for your culinary arts career will help you avoid potential pitfalls and losses in the industry.

Here are some ways to prepare for an exciting culinary arts career:

1. Develop Interest in Culinary Arts

If you love food and enjoy the process of creating mouthwatering cuisines, then you already possess the basic requirements for a culinary arts career.

Be passionate about getting culinary training. Seek out catering companies willing to offer culinary training for free or at a cost.

A strong interest in any field propels you to excel.

2. Complete a Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts

You can be hired as a culinary professional if you only have a high school diploma. But, you’ll need a culinary degree to access some of the highest paying culinary jobs.

A bachelor’s degree in culinary arts may be completed online, offline, or a combination of both learning arrangements.

3. Obtain Post Graduate Degrees in Culinary Arts

A post-graduate culinary degree grants you the opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of the industry.

When you complete a postgraduate program, you can join any professional organization in the culinary industry to boost your career.

You’re also positioned for research roles and academia.

4. Gain Field Experience

You’ll need more than a culinary degree to thrive in the culinary world.

Practical experience is necessary. So, attach yourself to an executive chef or a leader in the culinary career of your choice to gain hands-on experience in the field.

Field experience also helps enrich your portfolio for better culinary jobs.

5. Keep Learning New Industry Skills

The culinary arts industry is constantly evolving as new technologies and advanced culinary techniques emerge.

You must be willing to learn, unlearn, and relearn the latest skills to remain relevant in your culinary career.

Explore available resources on food blogs, food channels, and online culinary courses to update your skills and knowledge.

Culinary Arts Resources to Help Your Career

Being a member of professional organizations like the American Culinary Federation and National Restaurant Association can impact your culinary career journey. Organizations provide you with representation, certifications, and a network of thousands of other culinary professionals.

You’ll find some other helpful resources online to boost your culinary career. Examples include

How to Switch to a Culinary Arts Career

If you have a high school diploma you can break into the food industry by taking entry-level roles like kitchen assistant.

Aside from that, completing a culinary degree is one of the first steps to making a career switch into culinary arts.

Acquire practical experiences in your most preferred culinary career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Culinary Arts?

Culinary arts is the art of designing recipes, cooking, and serving od. Culinary arts entails food styling and preparing culinary masterpieces for customers in different settings like restaurants, diners, or private residences.

What certification do I need for a Culinary Arts career?

Most culinary careers require little or no formal training to start. However, to advance in the food industry, you’ll need some certifications.

Certifications like Certified Foodservice Professional (CFSP), Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC), or Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC) stamps your authority in your chosen field.

Can I get a Culinary Arts degree online?

Many culinary arts degrees can be completed 100% online. So, if you’re looking for a degree that affords you time to work or convenience, try a culinary degree.

What fields can Culinary Arts professionals work in?

Culinary arts professionals are employed in a variety of industries as food service managers or in other rewarding culinary roles.

Culinary professionals can work in hospitality industries, manufacturing facilities, or establishments in the restaurant industry.

Is there a high demand for Culinary Arts majors?

Culinary arts majors are in high demand globally.

BLS reports the availability of about 2.4 million jobs for professionals in the culinary industry between 2021 and 2031.

As the hospitality industry and food service companies boom, demand will naturally increase for food service managers and other experts in culinary careers.

Final Thoughts

If you love food, then turn your passion into a means of livelihood by starting a career in culinary arts.

As noted, many culinary careers like food science offer high rewards and growth opportunities that you can benefit from.

Settle for a culinary career that aligns with your life goals and pursue it committedly.

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