Culinary Arts Classes
How to Select the Right One Near Decatur Alabama
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary college near Decatur AL is a wonderful career choice. Not only will you learn how to create spectacular meals or make fancy desserts, you'll also be able to earn a good income doing it. But exactly how do you go about selecting a culinary arts school once you've decided to enroll? What qualifications should you research and compare among the contending culinary schools before reaching your final selection? In order to be successful in the hospitality and restaurant business you must pick the ideal culinary program and degree. There are a wide range of options to select from, beginning with a certificate or diploma program and advancing to attaining an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You may attend a small culinary college, an online school, or enroll in a prestigious culinary institute that offers advanced degrees. The type of credential and school you select will probably be based on how much time and money you can afford to spend, together with your ultimate career goal. Once you have established what your main area of interest and budget are, you can start evaluating the cooking colleges that meet your preliminary requirements. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you choose, you could be working as a professional cook or chef in just six months. So before we dive more into the system of selecting a school, let's speak a little more about the degree and culinary school choices that are available.
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Cooking School Degree Programs
Just as with numerous other fields or professions in Decatur AL, there are multiple degree option programs that are offered in the culinary arts. At the most elemental level, you can enroll in a local cooking class, which are more informal in nature and can last from just a few hours to a few weeks. Generally a certificate or a diploma is presented upon completion. They can be broad in nature, for example instructing how to cook French meals, or they may be very specific and focus on one dish, for instance Crepes Suzette. Of course if you are seeking a more formal education geared towards a career in the restaurant industry, you will most likely choose to pursue a degree program. With a degree program, you will be obligated to invest considerably more time.
- Associate's Degrees can take anywhere from six months to 2 years to complete.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally entail as much as four years of training.
- Masters Degrees can take an additional 2 years or more after obtaining a Bachelor's.
Even more advanced degree options may be offered, such as Doctoral or specialized programs made available by culinary arts institutes. The most important point to bear in mind when deciding on which degree to strive for is ensuring that it provides the education and degree necessary to advance your ultimate career goals.
Once you have made your selection regarding the type of instruction and degree that you wish to pursue, you can start your search for the cooking school, college or institute that offers it. As an example, if your goal is to become a chef specializing in French cuisine, then naturally you will focus on those institutes that offer the suitable training. Or you can pick a college based on its ranking or other factors (we'll cover several of those later) and then select the most suitable degree program offered that is simpatico with your career objectives in Decatur AL. However you make your choice, cooking schools generally fall under 3 different categories:
- Cooking Schools. Some cooking schools do offer degree programs, but usually they offer diplomas or certificates. Their courses tend to be more specialized in nature, and they can last anywhere from a couple of months to as long as 3 to 4 years.
- Community Colleges. Regional community colleges tend to be more affordable than most private colleges and a large number have outstanding programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are established and maintained by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Schools and Institutes. The more advanced degrees and training are provided by culinary schools and institutes. Several institutes provide the most respected and highest level of training in academia. However, since they are private institutions they tend to be more expensive than their public counterparts, some much more.
Choosing a culinary arts school will not only be dependent on the type of degree or program you want to pursue, but also how much you have to spend on your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to lower expenses, keep in mind that out-of-state residents usually have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. In addition, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition fees for local residents. So don't forget to research the public options within Alabama and also within the Decatur AL area to discover the most affordable options.
Culinary Arts Online Training Programs
A number of potential students may find that there are no cooking schools that are within commuting distance of their Decatur AL residence. One alternative is to enroll in online classes within the convenience of one's residence. The accessibility and flexibility makes it the single solution for some students that continue working full time while going to school. Plus there are more programs online than ever before that are accredited. Remember that a considerable portion of the training will be provided under an externship. Externships are programs where students work under regional chefs or other culinary professionals to ensure that they receive hands-on training outside of the internet classroom. Just make sure that the online college you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged organization (more on this later). So if you are disciplined enough to be able to attend classes and study in this more independent manner, earning a cooking degree online just might be the right option for you.
Researching Culinary Institutions
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to attain, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there are numerous culinary arts schools in the Decatur area and across the USA, you need to create a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your choices. A few obvious qualifications, for example cost and location are a good place to start. But picking a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other variables, for instance accreditation and reputation that you need to review also. So below are some crucial areas that you will need to investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary institute you decide on has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As previously mentioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review regarding their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it can also help in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools frequently have the benefit of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of success and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more reputable schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts programs you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that numerous students were unhappy with either the institutes or the training and dropped out. They might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the culinary arts field, as well as a large network of professional contacts. Watch out for any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking college that you choose should be within driving distance of your Decatur home, unless you have decided to move. You may think about attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, perhaps you have decided to attend a specific culinary school located in a different state due to its ranking and courses offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the area and your future living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that a number of schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal way to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking institute you enroll in has large classes, you will probably get limited individual attention from the instructors. The ideal means to evaluate the interaction between instructors and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are satisfied with the level of attention they get in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with a couple of the instructors and determine what their teaching styles are along with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you select has available class scheduling that will work with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Decatur AL due to your job schedule, make sure that the school you select offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, check that the culinary college has a part-time option. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class because of work, family or other responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Decatur Culinary School
A successful career in the hospitality and restaurant industry is dependent upon choosing the right culinary school. As we have covered, there are a number of things that you must consider when evaluating schools, for instance their accreditation, reputations, and training facilities. Just like any life changing decision, you should start by collecting information, and the best means to do that is by contacting culinary colleges directly, either in person or over the telephone. If you're not sure regarding which schools to check out, you may want to consider asking chefs in your area about any culinary colleges they recommend. Later use the Internet to check out those schools further before you contact them. By taking the time to carefully research each of your education alternatives, you will be in a much better position to make an enlightened decision. And when you choose the right school, you will have a great beginning toward your aspiration of becoming a chef in Decatur Alabama.