Culinary Arts Courses
How to Choose the Right One Near Phoenix Arizona
Deciding to become a chef and enrolling in a culinary school near Phoenix AZ is a great career choice. You'll be able to make a nice living doing what you love by learning to create spectacular dishes or make fancy pastries and desserts. However, now that you've made the decision, just how do you set about picking a culinary arts school? What criteria should you consider and compare among the contending culinary schools before reaching your ultimate choice? If you want to be successful in the hospitality and restaurant fields you must select the right culinary program and degree. There are a multitude of alternatives to pick from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to attaining an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You can enroll in a small baking college, an online school, or enroll in a large culinary institute that provides advanced degrees. The type of credential and school you choose will probably be dependent upon how much time and money you can afford to invest, as well as your ultimate career objective. Once you have decided what your main area of interest and budget are, you can start examining the cooking institutes that meet your initial qualifications. Depending on the degree and type of culinary school you decide on, you could be working as a professional chef or cook in as little as six months. So before we dive more into the method of choosing a school, let's talk a little more about the degree and culinary school options that are available.
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Culinary Arts Schools
After you have made your selection regarding the kind of instruction and degree that you wish to pursue, you can start your search for the culinary arts school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your dream is to train to be a chef specializing in French cuisine, then of course you will concentrate on those schools that provide the appropriate training. Or you can opt for a school based on its ranking or other factors (we'll cover some of those later) and then select the most ideal degree program available that is compatible with your career goals in Phoenix AZ. However you make your choice, cooking schools generally fit within 3 different categories:
- Cooking Schools. Certain cooking schools do offer degree programs, but typically they offer diplomas or certificates. Their courses tend to be more focused in nature, and they can last anywhere from a couple of months to as long as 3 to 4 years.
- Community Colleges. Area community colleges tend to be more economical than most private schools and a large number have exceptional programs. They almost exclusively offer Associate's Degrees and are founded and maintained by either state or local governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The advanced degrees and training are offered by culinary colleges and institutes. A few institutes provide the most highly regarded and highest level of training in academia. But bear in mind, since they are private schools they often can be more costly than their public counterparts, some a lot more.
Picking a culinary school will not only be dependent on the type of degree or program you want to pursue, but also the amount of money you have to spend on your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to minimize expenses, remember that out-of-state residents usually have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Also, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition fees for local residents. So make sure to research the public options within Arizona as well as within the Phoenix AZ area to find the most affordable options.
Online Culinary Degree Programs
A number of prospective students may discover that there are no culinary arts schools that are within driving distance of their Phoenix AZ home. One alternative is to enroll in online classes within the comfort of one's home. The convenience and flexibility makes it the one solution for many students that continue working full time while going to classes. Also there are more programs online than ever that are accredited. Remember that a significant portion of the instruction will be provided under an externship. Externships are programs where students work with area chefs or other culinary practitioners so that they obtain hands-on training beyond the online classroom. Just be sure that the online program you choose is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged organization (more on this later). So if you are dedicated enough to be able to go to classes and study using this more independent method, obtaining a culinary arts degree online might be the best choice for you.
Researching Culinary Arts Institutions
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institution. Since there are numerous cooking institutions in the Phoenix area and within the USA, you must develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing your choices. Some obvious qualifiers, including location and cost are a good place to start. But choosing a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other criteria, such as reputation and accreditation that you need to review also. Therefore, following are some crucial areas that you must investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's very important that the culinary college you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As mentioned previously, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive review regarding their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the benefit of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a long track record of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more highly regarded schools usually modernize their facilities and equipment. The significant lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are looking at. Lower graduation rates are indications that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the courses and dropped out. They can also suggest that the teachers were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary arts community, as well as a large network of professional associations. Watch out for any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Phoenix residence, unless you have decided to move. You may look into attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have decided to enroll in a particular culinary institute located in a different state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your potential living conditions. Look over the training facilities personally to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Consider also that many schools concentrate their job placement programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal way to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized training. If the culinary institute you enroll in has bigger classes, you will undoubtedly get minimal individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to assess the interaction between teachers and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the amount of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and determine what their teaching philosophies are as well as their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary arts program if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you select offers class scheduling that will fit in with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ due to your job schedule, make sure that the school you pick offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the culinary arts college has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class due to work, family or other obligations.
Find the Best Phoenix Culinary School
A successful career in the hospitality and restaurant industry is predicated upon picking the ideal chef school. As we have addressed, there are various things that you need to consider when researching schools, including their accreditation, reputations, and training facilities. Just like any life changing decision, you must begin by getting information, and the ideal way to accomplish that is by getting in touch with culinary arts colleges directly, either face to face or over the telephone. If you're uncertain about which schools to explore, you might need to consider asking chefs in your city about any culinary colleges they recommend. Afterwards go on the Web to check out these schools even more before you contact them. By making the effort to thoroughly research each of your education alternatives, you will find yourself in a better position to make an educated decision. And when you choose the right school, you will have a terrific beginning toward your goal of becoming a chef in Phoenix Arizona.