In the booming restaurant and food service industries, formal culinary arts training can give you a leg up on other candidates as you begin your career. So how do you find the best fit for your goals, your budget and your busy life? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you choose the program that’s right for you.
- Hands-on experience
A comprehensive culinary arts program gets you into the kitchen and working before you earn a diploma or degree. Look for schools that offer experiential learning programs and externships, so you can graduate with a resume that shows potential employers you’ve already been honing the skills they need. At Helms College, students learn real-world restaurant, food service and catering skills alongside industry-experienced executive chefs through Edgar’s Hospitality Group, which operates Edgar’s Grille and Edgar’s Bistro, as well as two conference centers and a private club, the Pinnacle Club.
You’re about to invest your time and money in a program that will help you take the next step in your career, so it’s important to consider whether your school is committed to your learning as well. Be sure to research your chosen school’s accreditation status before you enroll. Helms is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), which provides standards, policies and accountability to ensure you get the quality training you need.
- Expert faculty
You’ll need instructors who can give you guidance beyond cooking and knife selection, whether you plan to run your own restaurant, get started working on a food truck, or open a catering business. Look for chef educators who incorporate leadership, financial planning and communication skills into their curriculum for a broad-based education. Odds are, they’ll also have connections in the field—as they keep up with industry changes and know the chefs that own the restaurants.
Culinary school tuition varies widely, depending on the type and length of program you choose. You’ll need to decide if a traditional college or university, trade school, or dedicated culinary arts school is right for you—but before you commit, explore your options with financial aid, grants and scholarships to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Helms offers a variety of scholarships to new and returning students to aid them in paying for college.
- Length of program
Are you looking for training that will get you working out in the field as soon as possible, or are you ready to commit to a formal degree? A culinary arts diploma gets you the essential knowledge, skills and abilities you need, while associate’s and bachelor’s degrees allow you to specialize your talents as you pursue a liberal arts education. The Culinary Arts Diploma at Helms is designed to be completed in just 44 weeks, freeing you to begin or continue your professional career in under a year. Many students go on to earn their Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree, a 77-week program.