How to Select the Right One Near Phoenix Arizona
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary institute near Phoenix AZ is a great career choice. You'll be able to make a nice living doing what you love by learning to cook extraordinary dishes or make lavish pastries and desserts. However, just how do you go about selecting a culinary school once you've decided to enroll? Prior to making your final selection, what criteria should you research and compare among the cooking schools you are considering? If you want to be successful in the hospitality and restaurant industry you must pick the right culinary program and degree. There are a wide variety of alternatives to choose from, beginning with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to earning an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You may enroll in a small cooking school, an online training class, or enroll in a prestigious culinary institute that offers more advanced degree programs. The type of degree and school you choose will no doubt be based upon how much time and money you can afford to commit, as well as your ultimate career goal. After you have decided what your main area of interest and budget are, you can start assessing the culinary arts institutes that meet your initial requirements. Depending on the certification and type of culinary school you choose, you could be employed as a professional chef or cook in just six months. So before we dig more into the process of selecting a school, let's talk a little more about the degree and culinary school choices that are available.
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Once you have made your selection regarding the kind of training and degree that you want to pursue, you can start your search for the cooking school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your goal is to become a chef specializing in Italian cuisine, then naturally you will concentrate on those schools that offer the proper training. Or you can opt for an institute based on its reputation or other criteria (we'll discuss several of those later) and then pick the most ideal degree program available that is consistent with your career objectives in Phoenix AZ. However you make your choice, cooking schools generally fit within three distinct categories:
- Cooking Schools. A few cooking schools do offer degree programs, but typically they offer diplomas or certificates. Their programs tend to be more specialized in nature, and they can range anywhere from one or two months to as long as 3 or 4 years.
- Community Colleges. Local community colleges can be more inexpensive than the majority of private schools and many have excellent programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are established and maintained by either state or local governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The advanced training and degrees are offered by culinary schools and institutes. A few institutes provide the most respected as well as the highest standard of training in academia. Unfortunately, since they are private institutions they tend to be more expensive than their public counterparts, some much more.
Picking a culinary arts school will not only be based on the type of degree or program you wish to pursue, but also how much you have to invest in your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to reduce expenses, keep in mind that out-of-state residents normally have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Furthermore, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition rates for local residents. So be sure to explore the public alternatives within Arizona and also within the Phoenix AZ area to find the most economical options.
Culinary Arts Online Colleges
Many potential students may discover that there are no culinary arts schools that are within driving proximity of their Phoenix AZ home. One option is to attend online classes within the comfort of one's residence. The practicality and flexibility makes it the one solution for a number of students that continue working full time while attending classes. Also there are more schools online than ever before that are accredited. Remember that a considerable part of the instruction will be provided under an externship. Externships are programs where students train under local chefs or other cooking practitioners to ensure that they obtain hands-on training beyond the online classroom. Just make certain that the online school you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged organization (more on this later). Therefore if you are dedicated enough to be able to participate in classes and study in this more independent method, attaining a cooking online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Comparing Cooking Institutes
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a public or private school. Since there are numerous culinary institutions in the Phoenix area and across the United States, you need to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start narrowing your choices. Some obvious qualifications, for example cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, such as accreditation and reputation that you need to assess as well. Therefore, below are some key areas that you will need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary arts program you choose has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously mentioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a detailed review pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained history of success and received one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more reputable schools usually update their equipment and facilities. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the programs and dropped out. They can also suggest that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or excellent reputation within the culinary field, in addition to a large network of professional connections. Be skeptical of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you choose must be within commuting distance of your Phoenix home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have opted to attend a specific culinary school located in a different state due to its ranking and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the location and your future living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that a number of schools focus their job placement programs within their local communities, so pick a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking program you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly receive little personal attention from the teachers. The ideal means to evaluate the communication and interaction between teachers and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the amount of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, speak with several of the teachers and learn what their teaching philosophies are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary program if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you choose offers class scheduling that can accommodate your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Phoenix AZ due to your work schedule, check that the school you select offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the culinary arts school has a part-time alternative. Also, check to see what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class as a result of family, work or other commitments.
Find Out More About How To Become A Chef in Phoenix
Enroll in the Best Phoenix Culinary School
A successful career in the restaurant and hospitality profession is contingent upon selecting the right cooking college. As we have covered, there are several things that you should take into consideration when comparing schools, including their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. As with any career decision, you should start by collecting information, and the most effective means to accomplish that is by getting in touch with cooking schools directly, either in person or over the phone. If you're unsure regarding which schools to consider, you may want to think about consulting with chefs in your location about any cooking schools they endorse. Then go on the Internet to explore these schools even more before contacting them. By making the effort to thoroughly evaluate each of your education alternatives, you will find yourself in a much better position to make an enlightened decision. And when you pick the ideal school, you will have a terrific beginning toward your goal of becoming a chef in Phoenix Arizona.