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Eight Top Culinary Arts Careers

By: Andy West

A culinary arts career is an inviting prospect for many people. For one thing, demand is up, as people's busy lives cause them to eat out more and more. For another, a culinary education opens up a variety of possible careers, from running the kitchen in a top restaurant to the very desirable option of owning your own business.

But many ask if there really is money to be made in a culinary arts career. Most of us, when we think of cooks, think of the greasy hamburger flippers at the local diner. There is a good reason that those jobs are normally filled with teenage employees, and that's because anyone with a culinary education and a career plan sets their sights much higher. There are a number of culinary arts careers that offer ambitious folk true earning potential.

Below is a list of eight top culinary arts careers available to those with the appropriate education and experience.

Personal chef
A personal chef typically works in a private home for a private employer. Because of this setup, a personal chef often has more flexibility within his or her work environment, not to mention more creative control over the menu. Full time personal chefs usually earn between $35,000 and $50,000.

Head cook or chef
The head cook or chef is a culinary arts career that many cooks set their sights on. The head chef at a restaurant is generally in charge of developing menu choices and managing a team of cooks. Although the average salary is $34,000 annually, a head chef at a top restaurant can easily make as much as $60,000, or even more.

Restaurant manager
A restaurant manager is in charge of not just the kitchen and its cooks, but also the wait staff. Although a restaurant manager's salary averages around $50,000 annually, a manager in an upscale restaurant can earn considerably more. However, you should also keep in mind that many managers work long hours with little or no overtime compensation.

Pastry chef
Believe it or not, being a pastry chef is another good culinary arts career. Pastry chefs' salaries average at about $50,000 annually, although the yearly income is a little less for those who are paid hourly wages.

Executive chef
Executive chefs are primarily found at upscale restaurants, and average around $75,000 annually. However, executive chefs can make as much as $120,000 annually in top restaurants.

A sommelier, also known as a wine steward, is usually present in upscale restaurants. Although a sommelier's income averages around $60,000, it can sky rocket as high as $150,000.

Wine director
A wine director does much the same thing as a sommelier. The average income for a wine director is $85,000 annually.

World-class chef
World-class chefs are the ones you see and hear about every day. For example, Wolfgang Puck is a world-class chef who is well known for his signature line of convenience foods. World-class chefs can easily make as much as $100,000, but that figure can increase exponentially if you know how to market your signature lines via books, magazines, television, and other media outlets. A world-class chef is the type of culinary arts career that most cooks fantasize about, and many self-employed caterers hope to eventually make a reality.

As you can see, there are many opportunities available for you to find a high paying culinary arts career. Next time you talk about your dreams, and your friends or family say, "There's no money in that," rattle off a few of these jobs and see if you can't change their minds.

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About The Author, Andy West

The Culinary Institute of Virginia College offers an outstanding culinary arts career program. For information on culinary arts careers, visit
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