What to Look for in a Culinary School

Whether you know you want to pursue culinary school or you are still thinking about it, do your research. There are a number of renown culinary schools around the country. Chances are, though, that only one of these schools is the best fit for you. This article does not presume to know the school that is best for each culinary school hopeful. Even so, we can offer perspective on what to look for before you begin the application process.


Cost is a factor in every decision we make and for good reason. When considering the culinary industry, hopefuls should be aware that entry-level food service jobs are not often high-paying. For instance, the average annual pay is $30,015 for an Entry Level Line Cook in New York City. That rounds out to about $14.43 per hour. Meanwhile, culinary schools typically cost $40,000 or more.

In other words, it is important to measure how much student-loan debt you can handle. The good news for students is that many local community colleges offer American Culinary Federation-accredited programs. Accreditation ensures that these programs meet a quality standard. The schools also recognize that students do not need to go into debt for a culinary education.

Age of a School

Due to increased interest, more privately-run culinary schools materialized over the last decade. Make sure to do your due diligence, though. New does not always mean better. The important thing to note is that schools earn ACF accreditation over time. The ACF will only give its seal of approval once it sees that a school exemplified a consistent record of excellence. Older schools are also beneficial for networking. If students can network with a long-line of alumni, there is a greater possibility of job options. These alumni may even do the hiring, themselves.


There are tremendous benefits in attending an older, established culinary school. Nonetheless, the state of its facilities is also important to note. Community colleges are generally older than private institutions. Still, community colleges possess a smaller budget. A newer school with a higher tuition can purchase updated equipment and install modern facilities. While these factors possess great curb appeal, keep in mind that they are not always the out-of-classroom reality. A recent graduate’s first job may be in an older kitchen. Therefore, it is best to measure all of your options before making a final choice.