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What Is the Salary Range for a Chef with a Culinary Arts Degree?

Career News December 30, 2014

Have you decided to be a chef, but are unsure if culinary school is the right choice? If salary and a potential for career growth are important, then the answer is yes. Culinary school and a culinary arts degree are integral parts of a successful career path for a future chef.

Advantages of a Culinary Arts Degree

Knowledge of cooking technique and how to use ingredients well are vital characteristics of every successful chef. One of the best ways to master both of those requirements is to attend culinary school and take courses such as knife skills, food safety and sanitation, palate development, and ingredient pairing. Mastering these aspects of food preparation is crucial to maintaining an edge in a career with an extreme amount of competition.

What Is the Salary Difference for Chefs With or Without a Culinary Degree?

Potential chefs just starting a career in the culinary field have to decide if attending culinary school is personally a good fit for the kind of culinary career they seek. If salary and length of time spent to become successful is a serious consideration when making the choice to pursue a career as a chef, culinary school should be first on the “to do” list.

An entry level culinary chef salary with a job title like pastry chef or sous chef is around $35,000 per year. Without a culinary arts degree, chefs will likely be forced to start their career at the bottom as a dishwasher, busser, or wait staff making minimum wage.

Top of the Ladder

A successful career as a chef takes time and experience. Once a chef has gained both, he or she is ready to take on the role as a leader with a job title of Executive Chef. To get to the top of the ladder as an Executive Chef, the skills learned by attending culinary school are priceless. When trying to get to the top of a field as competitive as the culinary field, any advantage is important.

Developing a Palate

Time spent in culinary school also exposes students to flavors and ingredients they might not otherwise experience. This is a huge advantage when it comes to the need to combine ingredients and create signature dishes. Developing a sophisticated palate capable of distinguishing flavors is crucial in a successful career as a chef.

Location, Location, Location

According to the website Chef’s Blade, the top city to work in as a chef is Denver, Colorado. The average chef salary in Denver is $48,667. Picking the right location to begin a chef’s career is almost as important of a choice as whether or not to attend culinary school. If a chef works in a small town with limited opportunities, a culinary arts degree will be of little help. Chefs need patrons that appreciate their style of cooking. Living in a city like Denver allows chefs the opportunity to reach a broader, more well-informed patronage.

A culinary chef salary is a versatile, ever changing animal. There are so many factors at work for chefs trying to advance their career that any chance to get ahead should be grabbed quickly. Spending the time and money to get a culinary arts degree is a step in the right direction toward grabbing that successful culinary career by the horns.

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