Those interested in a career in the field of professional catering may want to earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in culinary arts. The work involved in this field features preparing beverages and meals for special occasions, such as birthday parties, business gatherings, conventions, and weddings. Students will be taught how to prepare sauces, plan menu options, bake pastry items, and cook meats.
A.A. Programs in Professional Catering
Culinary arts associate degree programs are most suitable for those who aspire for careers in professional catering; they will especially benefit from programs focused on the catering industry. Students enrolled in these programs are imparted instruction on kitchen safety protocols, menu selections, nutrition, recipe creation, and modern food preparation techniques. Those who aspire to careers in the catering field have to be prepared to work in a fast-paced setting, move heavy objects and stay upright for extended spells of time.
Admission criteria related to the majority of schools offering associate degree programs require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Additional requirements, such as completion of certain math courses, may be expected of students in some culinary arts programs before beginning the culinary coursework.
Coursework in culinary arts programs covers such topic areas as specific cooking techniques and different cuisine styles. Business skills needed for the catering field are also taught in many programs. Coursework commonly includes subject areas such as:
•Food and beverage preparation
•Business management technology
•Customer service management
•Ethnic cuisine styles
•Food service safety and sanitation
•Culinary cost controls
•Baking and pastries
Job and Wage Outlook
Those who successfully complete a culinary arts degree program may opt to go into food service, food preparation or catering management. A growth rate of 5% has been projected for open positions in the food service management field during the period from 2008 to 2018. Workers in the food and beverage service and preparation fields are expected to enjoy a job growth rate of 10% during the same period. In May 2012, foodservice managers took home an average annual wage of $47,960. During that year, food service and food preparation workers earned an annual average wage of $19,300.