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How to Become a Culinary Arts Teacher

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Instructors of the culinary arts work to inspire future chefs to not only be creative and exacting, but to also have the ability to produce beautiful plates of food for restaurant patrons. As teachers, their satisfaction isn’t just in graduating pupils, but also in sharing their expertise with engaged learners and knowing that those students excel in a profession they love.

Job Description

Instructors work with associated members of a teaching staff to help student learn and attain the educational goals. Culinary arts teacher job duties vary depending on the institution and the student population. Instructors demonstrate culinary techniques and observe students at work. They may oversee preparation of food and beverages for a student-run cafe. They may inventory and order food, manage a budget, and spend time in their off-duty hours reading for their profession, preparing lesson plans, and attending job-related seminars and workshops.

Education Requirements

Education requirements vary by employer. Institutions governed by the state, such as public vocational-technical high schools, follow guidelines established by the state department of education. A bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate are often required. A combination of experience and formal education (at least an associate’s degree) are sometimes acceptable.

Private schools have greater flexibility in setting requirements for experience and education. Chefs who have established a reputation in well-known restaurants have the best opportunities for teaching positions.

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers 16 levels of certification based on education, experience, and successful completion of written and practical exams. Culinary instructor certification may not be required for employment; ACF credentialing is prestigious and attests to a chef’s abilities and commitment to the profession. American Culinary Federation certification can lead to better job opportunities and higher pay.

What Does Schooling Cost?

Attending culinary school can be expensive, but it does not have to be. Tuition and fees for the 2018‒2019 academic year at The Culinary Institute of America, the nation’s premier culinary school, topped $34,000. That doesn’t include books and supplies or room and board. However, as the school’s website states, approximately 90 percent of their students received some form of financial aid.

A culinary arts program at a community college can be much more affordable, particularly if you’re a young person still living at home. Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, is ranked among the top 10 culinary programs in the United States. Nebraska residents pay $64 per credit hour. Students who want to take a college class or two while still in high school pay just $32 per credit hour.

Attendance at a public vocational-technical high school is usually free for students who reside in the district. Because space is often limited, admissions can be competitive. Fees may be associated with a culinary arts program, and you may be required to purchase uniforms. Still, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get an education in the culinary arts.

Work Environment

Culinary arts are taught in a variety of settings. Instructors work in vocational schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and culinary schools. A culinary arts teacher job duties and hours depend on the institution. Instructors may work days, evenings or weekends. They may be called upon to work extra hours during special events.

Salary and Job Outlook

That depends on factors such as education, credentials, expertise and reputation. Post-secondary teaching jobs are likely to require at least a bachelor’s degree, certification and several years’ experience, preferably in a well-known restaurant. On the other hand, if you’re interested in teaching in a vocational institute or being an instructor for weekend cooking classes, the requirements ‒ and, the salary ‒ will be lower.

Some culinary arts teachers make six figures, while those in public schools and vocational institutes have salaries on par with other instructors in those settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks data on all civilian occupations. Although there is no separate classification for culinary arts teachers, teachers of career and technical education earned a median annual salary of $56,750 in 2018. A median salary means half in the profession earned less, and half earned more.

Although there will probably continue to be a demand for vocational educators, the BLS predicts a job growth rate of just 4 percent through 2026. That’s slower than average compared to other occupations.


Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.

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