Cost of Cooking School

The cost of higher education has been increasing at roughly twice the rate of inflation for the past 20 years, and cooking school is not immune from this trend. On the contrary, as cooking has become more glamorous as the popularity of the Food Network and celebrity chefs have expanded, cooking school itself becomes a luxury item.

  • On the other hand, at a time of high unemployment for recent college graduates, many of whom have gone deeply in debt to pay for their degrees, it is worth pointing out that cooking school graduates have skills that are always in demand. There are so many food service establishments that there will always be a demand for eager workers, even if the pay is relatively modest.
  • The second point to make is that many people are drawn to cooking school as a hobby or a means of self-expression. Such people can be less sensitive to price than others.

However, for most people interested in cooking school, price does matter – quite a bit. Getting the best value for their money is important. So what are factors do you need to consider when choosing a program?

  • First, consider location. If your cost of living is low, perhaps because you are already living in the area or have family or friends with whom you can stay, this can represent a huge savings. Over a course of months or even years, living and studying in an expensive city like New York or Los Angeles can eat a hole in your budget.
  • Second, consider the length of time you need to devote to a given program, relative to the amount you will need to pay for it. You could pay as much as $44,000 for a culinary arts certificate from a famous school in New York that will take just six months to complete. That’s an awful lot of money isn’t it? Would it make more sense to earn an associate’s degree at a community college or trade school instead? Both programs would cost roughly the same. But what about the opportunities you might miss by spending an extra year in school? Doesn’t that count for something?
    Cost of Cooking School
  • In other words, keep your eye on the big picture at all times; things aren’t always black or white. Let’s go back to our example of the certificate program in New York City. You will probably be able to get at least some financial aid to offset some of that expense. And at the end the six-month program, you should be able to find a job making $25,000 to $40,000 a year in a good restaurant. With a few years’ experience, with your excellent connections and training, you might be moving up to shift supervisor or even a sous-chef position. Your pay and reputation would both be on the rise. Had you attended that two-year AAS program, you might still be the new guy or girl on the crew scrambling to prove yourself in a new kitchen.

So, cost is just one factor when considering cooking schools. Other things to think about are time, reputation, and overall value.