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Culinary Arts

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Culinary Arts Major

11,517 yearly degrees
#35 in popularity
$33,000 median salary

Culinary arts is a major that typically falls into the Personal & Culinary Services category.

There are 639 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in culinary arts, 68 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 1 that offer a master’s degree.

Who Is Getting a Culinary Arts Degree?

This is a less frequently chosen major. Only 1,200 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts in 2017. This major is dominated by women with about 60.8% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of culinary arts majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 3.8%
  • Black or African American: 11.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 17.6%
  • White: 49.2%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 4.9%
  • Other Races: 12.6%
Culinary Arts Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in culinary arts. About 4.9% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending culinary arts majors to the U.S. are South Korea, China and India.

What Will You Learn as a Culinary Arts Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to culinary arts to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Culinary Arts Majors

A major in culinary arts should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Culinary Arts Majors

Skills for Culinary Arts Majors

A major in culinary arts prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for Culinary Arts Majors

Abilities for Culinary Arts Majors

Culinary arts majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

Important Abilities for culinary arts Majors

What Can You Do With a Culinary Arts Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with culinary arts:

Careers Related to Culinary Arts
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Chefs and Head Cooks



Food Service Managers



Food Scientists and Technologists



Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products



Cooks, Restaurant



First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers












Slaughterers and Meat Packers



Culinary Arts Major Salary

Average salaries range from $28,000 to $52,000 for careers related to culinary arts. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Culinary Arts Major  ( 28000 to 52000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Culinary Arts Major Jobs

Some careers associated with culinary arts require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to culinary arts have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Culinary Arts
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Culinary Arts Programs

There are 68 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, with 4 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Culinary Arts Major Worth It?

The median salary for a culinary arts grad is $33,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is -15% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $-113,800 after 20 years!

culinary arts salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images via License

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