Career Paths

Careers in Culinary Art

A career in the culinary arts offers a variety of options, whether you are interested in becoming a chef, an owner or operator of a restaurant, owning your own business, or pursuing many other endeavors.

Career Information

Learn everything you need to know about a career in the culinary arts with our in-depth career guides.

Degrees & Majors

A culinary arts degree can help you take your skills to the next level. Explore top programs here.

Salary & Job Outlook

How much do culinary professionals make? Explore salary information for the highest-paying culinary jobs.

Culinary careers offer unparalleled opportunities to express your creativity, work with people, influence the way the world eats, and make a good living. Of course, these careers also require significant training and long hours of hard work. Some culinary careers can lead to fame and fortune. Chefs, restaurateurs, and many on-air TV personalities have become household names and role models. But most chefs in the United States work behind the scenes, outside the view of America’s taste buds.

Career Profiles

List of Culinary Careers

Food has the power to generate feelings of love and nostalgia, to bring us together, to heal, satisfy, and bring joy to a great many people. It is deeply rooted in history and culture, and it’s an intricate part of our everyday lives.

Maybe you enjoy cooking for others, restoring dishes from your family’s heritage, or perhaps you simply crave the opportunity to learn something new. Whatever the case may be for you personally, culinary careers are filled with an array of fascinating opportunities to experience new things, meet interesting people, and find fulfillment in the work you do.

Culinary Artist

Culinary artists work with food as a medium to create art. They have hands-on experience with the culinary industry and can demonstrate their creativityby serving dishes that are aesthetically pleasing. These artists usually have extensive knowledge of culinary arts and are trained in various cooking techniques.

Pastry Chef

Pastry chefs are highly skilled craftsmen who specialize in producing a multitude of delicious and varied baked goods. A pastry chef will bake, assemble, decorate, and otherwise prepare a wide variety of desserts for both casual restaurants and high-end establishments.



A winemaker is an expert who produces wine. They use various techniques and strategies to produce wine of highly specific styles and tastes. Winemakers must have extensive training in science, chemistry, and other fields before they can create complicated recipes that can take several days or even months to complete.

Cake Decorator

A cake decorator specializes in making cake and pastries which may feature elaborate designs. A cake decorator can apply different techniques for adding icing, fruit, or flowers to the cake. Cakes made in this fashion require specialized skills and tools such as piping bags, turntable stands, and wraps instead of ordinary baking pans.

Food Stylist

Food stylists are professional artists that use their talents to make food look appetizing. They are hired by restaurants and media companies to style dishes in a way that enhances their appearance for print publication. Many food stylists come from backgrounds in advertising, graphic design, and photography.

Sous Chef

A sous chef is a chef in charge of the day-to-day operations of an entire kitchen such as creating and executing recipes, managing staff, ordering ingredients, and preparing food for service. The title is often abbreviated as "sous chef" or "chef de partie". Sous chefs have been described as "the second in command”.

Degrees & Majors

Best Degrees for Culinary Careers

Culinary arts is a broad and complex field of study, encompassing the disciplines of cooking, baking, hospitality management, food safety, nutrition, and dietetics. The creative and technical skills needed to create food, cook it correctly, and serve it professionally are critical skills that can be learned and perfected over time. There are many schools with different styles of training.

Popular Majors for Culinary Artists

Salary & Job Outlook

Culinary Careers Salary

The employment landscape for culinary arts professionals is varied and dynamic. On the one hand, many career options involve a steep educational investment. On the other hand, self-starting culinary entrepreneurs can enter this field with little training and a passion for cooking. Salaries for culinary professionals also range widely, depending on the type of work, geographic location, level of education, and experience. Those that are new to the food and hospitality industry and have less experience will begin their careers with lower earning potential. But those who commit themselves to a lifetime of learning will find the field of culinary arts to have many rewards – both personal and monetary. The following is a snapshot of the most well-paying entry-level jobs in the culinary arts.
Private Chef$89,753$43.15
Food Services Manager$74,123$35.60
Executive Chef$71,699$34.47
Food Technologist$70,166$33.73
Restaurant Manager$69,828$33.57
Food Safety Specialist$55,692$26.77
Sous Chef$48,231$23.18
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Culinary Careers FAQ

Cooking is an incredible way to make a living. Not only does cooking have a fulfilling intrinsic reward, but it also offers an abundance of career opportunities that are full of potential. There are countless benefits to being a chef, especially when you consider the fact that the culinary industry is growing at a record rate. Becoming a chef is an excellent decision for anyone who is interested in cooking, food, and hospitality.

The highest paying culinary job is a private chef, according to recent employment data published by The average salary for a private chef is $89,753 per year in the United States and pay ranges from $56,8040 to $144,411. A private chef is an individual who cooks, prepares, and serves food for a client or group of clients at their client’s home or at a restaurant, catering business, or corporate dining facility. Their role is more flexible than that of a kitchen or catering chef because it can be personalized to the personal tastes and needs of their clients

Employment opportunities in the culinary industry are growing rapidly. The number of jobs for cooks and chefs is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2020 and 2030. Much of the projected job growth in this profession is the result of the need to replace workers who leave the labor force or transfer to different occupations. Another major factor contributing to employment growth is renewed industry demand linked to economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession.