Chef Degree Programs
How to Select the Right One Near Anchorage Alaska
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary institute near Anchorage AK is a wonderful career choice. You will not only be taught how to create spectacular meals or make fancy desserts, you'll also be able to make a nice living doing it. But exactly how do you go about choosing a culinary college once you've made your decision to enroll? What criteria should you consider and compare among the contending cooking institutes before arriving at your final choice? Bear in mind that you must pick the right program and degree if you want to be a success in the restaurant and hospitality industry. There are a wide range of alternatives to pick from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to earning an undergraduate as well as a graduate degree. You may attend a small cooking school, an online college, or enroll in a prestigious culinary institute that offers advanced degree programs. The type of credential and school you select will undoubtedly be dependent upon how much time and money you can afford to spend, in addition to your ultimate career goal. Once you have determined what your main area of interest and budget are, you can begin evaluating the culinary arts colleges that meet your initial requirements. Depending on the certification and type of culinary school you select, you could be employed as a professional cook or chef in just six months. So before we delve more into the method of picking a school, let's speak a little bit more about the degree and culinary school alternatives that are available.
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Culinary Arts College Degree Programs
Just as with numerous other industries or trades in Anchorage AK, there are multiple degree programs that are available in the culinary arts. At the most basic level, you can sign up for a nearby cooking course, which are more informal in nature and can last from a few hours to a few weeks. Often a certificate or a diploma is presented upon completion. They may be broad in nature, for instance demonstrating how to cook French dishes, or they can be quite targeted and concentrate on one dish, for example Crepes Suzette. Naturally if you are searching for a more formal education applicable for a career in the restaurant industry, you will probably choose to pursue a degree program. With a degree program, you will be required to invest significantly more time.
- Associate's Degrees can require anywhere from six months to 2 years to complete.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally entail as much as four years of instruction.
- Masters Degrees may take an additional 2 years or more after attaining a Bachelor's.
Even more advanced degree alternatives may be available, such as Doctoral or specialized programs made available by culinary arts institutes. Probably the most important point to bear in mind when determining which degree to strive for is ensuring that it supplies the degree and education necessary to advance your ultimate career objectives.
When you have made your decision regarding the kind of instruction and degree that you want to pursue, you can start your search for the culinary school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your dream is to train to be a chef specializing in German cuisine, then obviously you will concentrate on those colleges that provide the proper training. Or you can pick a college based on its reputation or other factors (we'll discuss some of those later) and then pick the best degree program available that is simpatico with your career goals in Anchorage AK. However you make your choice, culinary schools normally fall under 3 different categories:
- Cooking Schools. Certain cooking schools do offer degree programs, but generally they offer diplomas or certificates. Their programs tend to be more focused in nature, and they can range anywhere from a couple of months to as long as three or four years.
- Community Colleges. Regional community colleges tend to be more inexpensive than the majority of private colleges and many have exceptional programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are founded and maintained by either state or local governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The advanced training and degrees are furnished by culinary colleges and institutes. Several institutes provide the most renowned and highest standard of training in academia. However, since they are private institutions they generally can be more expensive than their public counterparts, some much more.
Selecting a culinary arts college will not only be based on the kind of program or degree you want to pursue, but also how much you have to invest in your education. If you decide to enroll in a public school to minimize costs, keep in mind that out-of-state residents usually are required to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. In addition, many community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition rates for area residents. So make sure to look into the public alternatives within Alaska as well as within the Anchorage AK area to find the most affordable options.
Online Cooking Training Programs
Many potential students may find that there are no culinary arts institutions that are within driving distance of their Anchorage AK residence. One solution is to attend online classes within the convenience of one's residence. The practicality and flexibility makes it the only solution for some students that are still working full-time while going to classes. Also there are more programs online than ever that are accredited. Keep in mind that a significant component of the instruction will be provided under an externship. Externships are programs where students work under area chefs or other cooking practitioners so that they obtain practical training outside of the internet classroom. Just make certain that the online program you choose is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization (more on this later). Therefore if you are dedicated enough to be able to attend classes and study in this more independent method, obtaining a culinary arts degree online might be the best option for you.
Evaluating Culinary Programs
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you want to attain, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there are numerous culinary institutions in the Anchorage area and across the United States, you will want to create a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your choices. Certain obvious qualifications, for instance cost and location are an excellent place to start. But picking a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other variables, for example accreditation and reputation that you need to review also. So below are some critical areas that you will need to research for each school as you compare them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the cooking program you select has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As mentioned previously, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized authority, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive assessment pertaining to their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in securing a student loan or financial aid which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the benefit of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to garner an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained history of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Certainly there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The important takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking colleges you are examining. Lower graduation rates are indications that many students were unhappy with either the schools or the training and quit before graduating. They may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates also. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the culinary community, as well as a large network of professional associations. Watch out for any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Anchorage residence, unless you are able to move. You may consider attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, perhaps you have opted to attend a specific culinary arts school located in a different state due to its prominence and courses offered. It would be a good idea to visit the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the location and your prospective living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that some schools target their job placement programs within their local communities, so choose a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best method to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts college you enroll in has large classes, you will probably get minimal personal attention from the instructors. The optimal manner in which to assess the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their teaching approaches are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary college if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you select provides class scheduling that can fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK because of your work schedule, confirm that the school you select offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the culinary program has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class because of work, family or other obligations.
Find the Right Anchorage Culinary School
A successful career in the restaurant and hospitality industry is predicated upon selecting the appropriate culinary arts school. As we have covered, there are a number of things that you should take into consideration when comparing schools, for example their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any important decision, you must begin by acquiring information, and the optimal method to do that is by contacting culinary arts institutes directly, either in person or by phone. If you're uncertain regarding which schools to consider, you may want to consider asking chefs in your city about any culinary arts colleges they endorse. Then use the Internet to look into those schools further before you contact them. By making the effort to thoroughly research each of your education alternatives, you will be in a more ideal position to make an informed decision. And when you select the ideal school, you will have a terrific start toward your dream of becoming a chef in Anchorage Alaska.