Advantages of a Degree vs. Culinary Certificate

The world of food service jobs can definitely seem like a confusing place. Even for those who have been cooking their entire lives at home or for friends, it’s not always easy to know what skills will transfer easily into food service jobs and which ones need to be acquired by attending one of the top culinary schools.

Even looking at the programs offered by the top culinary schools in the country doesn’t always make things any clearer. There are a multitude of different classes, cooking styles, and training options out there, and they are all usually focused on a specific area of the industry. One of the most common questions posed by those interested in becoming professional chefs is whether they would be better suited graduating with a certificate in cooking or pursuing a full degree program?

The Answer Depends On Your Future

The answer would seem to depend upon what your goals are for a career in the food services industry. A certificate from a culinary school helps prepare you for the basics of kitchen work. This includes a good foundation in cooking techniques and food preparation, along with an understanding of what restaurant "work" is like. This makes a certificate a great idea for someone looking for preparation as a line cook.

Wondering what a line cook is? A line cook is someone who is responsible for a specific type of cooking in a kitchen. It is somewhat analogous to being part of an assembly line in a factory, in the sense that line cooks only work of a specific portion of a meal such as sauces, meats, or vegetables. They are supervised by a hierarchy of chefs who have greater control over the entire kitchen.

Types of Foods Service Jobs Depends On Your Desires

If you are interested in taking a more active role in a restaurant kitchen, then a degree obtained from one of the country’s top culinary schools is a far more useful tool. Graduating from one of the programs can help take you to the next level in the industry. Not only can you learn about cooking, but you can also be instructed in how to run a kitchen, which includes things such as inventory, food selection and ordering, and basic staff management. You can also have access to a greater degree of support once you have left the school, such as an extensive alumni network and contacts who may be able to connect you with the food service job opportunities that you are looking for.

A degree will cost more money and require you to invest more time, although some organizations expect you have that degree if you are hoping to climb the corporate ladder, so to speak.