A career in the culinary arts can be exciting and provide you with an opportunity to travel the world to work at some of the best restaurants. Whether your goal is to own your restaurant and be the master chef, or work in one of the many wonderful restaurants worldwide, the path to your kitchen includes schooling and some time spent as an apprentice chef to hone your skills.
Generally, in order to become a successful chef, you need to earn a degree from a culinary or cooking school. A degree can come from standard universities, but more commonly from a vocational or trade-specific school. Here is where you will learn all the necessary skills and practices for advancement. After graduation, it is recommended that you study under a mentor and become an apprentice to gain more on-the-job experience and refine your technique. While it is possible to become an apprentice without a culinary degree, it will be a bit harder to find a business willing to take you on.
While it may not be required to become a chef, apprenticeship is a staple in order to reach the top tier of the business. The American Culinary Federation has more than 200 certified mentors and sponsors training and apprenticeship programs.
Many highly accredited culinary schools have sponsored apprenticeship programs for their graduates, as well. Through these programs, your school will assist you in finding a mentor with a respected restaurant. Apprenticeships are usually two years in length and your mentor will follow an established set of instructions.
The average salary for an apprentice chef, as of Nov. 13, 2009, is $28,000 a year. Depending upon the specific company, business or restaurant, your salary can be higher or lower. Restaurants in trendier, or more upscale areas pay more, with the average salary for a chef in New York starting at $54,000. Similarly, smaller or non-chain establishments will pay a bit less; a chef in the suburbs may earn $46,000. Salary depends on the particular economy of the area where you are working.
Graduates and apprentices can narrow their expertise, training to become cake decorators, sushi chefs, sous chefs and even personal chefs. Salaries vary for each position, depending on how much they are in demand. Within the culinary world, most of what will determine you wage is how well you perform and your credentials. Establishing many years of experience is vital.
After completing an apprenticeship program, you may want to continue on the road to becoming a master chef. While the pay scale will vary by region and company, as of June 2009, the average yearly salary for an executive chef is between $57,982 and $88,386. For an executive pastry chef, the annual salary is between $47,249 and $70,794. Further, a line cook will net between $19,957 and $26,118 a year, and a sous chef will earn between $33,127 and $51,530 a year.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Glion Institute of Higher Education
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