Many of the country's top chefs became successful without a cooking degree, but most agree that earning a culinary degree is the best way to kick off a stellar cooking career.
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If cooking is a passion that you'd like to turn into a career, then it is likely you are looking into culinary arts programs. While in the past, a degree in culinary arts was not necessary to become a top chef, more and more restaurants are requiring formal education. If you want to be a chef, then completing a culinary arts program is a must. The question is, which program is right for you? Degrees in culinary arts are popular and are growing in popularity. There are a lot of options of schools and programs. What should you consider when determining the school that is right for you.

Accreditation:

Accreditation is important. An accredited school is one who meets certain education guidelines. Potential employers will have preference for an accredited school because they know that an accredited school has met certain regulatory guidelines. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the main organization in North America that is responsible for accreditation. The ACF will examine the facilities themselves to ensure that the meet certain qualifications. Student-teacher ratios must be within certain guidelines and the curriculum must meet particular criteria. Choosing to attend an accredited school is good for a few reasons. It ensures that you are receiving top-quality education. It ensures prospective employers will recognize your level of education. Finally, it may allow you to transfer your college credits should you decide to change schools.

Cost:

While it is not the only consideration, cost is always a factor in choosing a school. When evaluating cost, you'll want to look at more than just tuition cost and expenses. You'll also want to gain an understanding of grants and other financial aid offered. There are some cases where schools with more expensive tuition also have other grant and financial aid resources that could actually make the cost of attendance at that school cheaper than another school with lower tuition but less grant opportunities.

Age of School and Facilities

When it comes to schools, reputation can be important. A brand new culinary arts school has not had time to develop a reputation, and may not even have had time enough to become accredited. It may be best to choose a school that has been around a while - something a prospective employer will recognize.

Modern facilities are important. In order to become a top chef you will need to be able to learn on state-of-the-art equipment, because that will be the type of equipment used in the best restaurants. You'll want to be able to use a kitchen that has everything you'll be using in your career.

Program and degree focus

It is important to interview your prospective schools, and visit them if possible. Schools will offer a variety of degree and certificate programs and likely different program focuses. You'll want to make sure that your prospective school offers the specific program you want. In addition, it is a good idea to choose a school with a wide variety of program focuses so that you can change your focus if your interests change.

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