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Is it Worth it to Attend a Culinary Arts School?

Higher Education Articles July 9, 2014

Easily arguable, the question always remains: school for culinary arts or no culinary arts school? This is a profession that may be fast tracked by starting as a prep cook in an upscale kitchen. This is definitely the cheapest route. One may be willing to pay the high price for culinary arts school, and spend up to two years to get an associate’s or even a bachelor’s degree. However, is it really worth it?


No matter how you dress up cooking, no one’s life depends on it. Even though one may have dicing skills of a surgeon, it is still a blue collar, occupational trade.

There must be consideration for high fees and tuition spent on culinary arts schools, only to find that $15.00 per hour is not as satisfying as previously thought.

Culinary arts schools are extremely demanding and tremendously expensive in comparison to starting chefs’ salaries. Tuition for certificate programs starts at $19,000 to $20,000 at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and subject to change at the discretion of the school. The associate’s program tuition at Le Cordon Bleu starts at $37,000 with a $200.00 retake fee per failed class.

It is almost impossible to work full-time and attend these classes since they are so demanding. One might think getting a full-time job in a kitchen with an experienced chef and being trained on the job would be an excellent alternative to culinary arts school. Not only would the individual be getting paid, but gain experience as well.

There is no better classroom for culinary arts training than time spent in the active kitchen where real problems are presented along with solutions to sticky situations. It is not proven that chefs with an impressive certificate make better cooks than those who have done time in a real kitchen with a seasoned overseer.

Pros and Cons

A negative aspect of becoming a chef is little to no room for advancement. Along with exhausting demands, large student loans, and staying at the same pay rate for several years in a row, it might prove to be a bit paralytic for these types of individuals. Many professional cooks don’t get regular breaks, they get little time off work, and they are expected to come in to work because often times there is no back-up for their position.

Not much calls to the profession of the culinary artist. It might be fun and invigorating for young people who aspire to become famous and wealthy as a world-renowned chef, but it is not realistic to believe one could become affluent in a small town that doesn’t cater to the rich and famous.

Culinary arts school is an option for people who are young, energetic, and have no money issues. The payoff can be great for people who want to become personal chefs and have a knack for marketing.

Certain career paths are definitely more difficult to succeed in than others – being a personal Chef, for instance, is a lot like being a freelance writer – your income will definitely fluctuate from one week to the next, and networking is crucial.

With turnover in restaurant work being very high, work in this profession is always easy to find. If you are interested in pursuing this career field, below are school programs to get you started in this profession.

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