Diplomas and Certificates

For just about all the different kinds of jobs in the culinary field there are diplomas and certificate programs to help you get there.

It’s possible to get into a decent-paying position at a good restaurant with your native skills and talents, but if you don’t have the connections, longevity, or just want to ensure that you can prove that you know your stuff to a potential employer, a diploma or certificate will certainly help.

And, if you aspire to specialty positions in your field, proving that you’ve gained the necessary skills and techniques is easier done if you’ve completed a diploma or certificate program.

The main focus of these credentials is mostly on the technical, practical aspects of the job. These credentials are generally offered for the fundamental elements of working in the culinary field – basic kitchen skills and hospitality, baking and pastry, restaurant management, catering and others. Other certificate programs include overview courses on the different kinds of popular cuisine and offer students the opportunity to improve their existing techniques.

Do you have the basic knife skills to be a line cook or food prep worker? Can you maintain a clean working environment and handle and store food in a manner consistent with the health code? Do you know the difference between baking and broiling? Do you have the basic administrative and customer service skills to keep the kitchen and the dining area running smoothly? A diploma or certificate can answer these questions.

Not all diploma or certificate programs are equal, however, so it’s important to know the details of the program before you sign up. Those just entering the field might want to set themselves up with the program that gives them the most chance to take advantage of the opportunities in the culinary field; those with some experience may not need such an extensive education and might want to take courses that point them towards the specialty they desire. Those just breaking in might want to take programs with plenty of hands-on experience to maximize their beginner skills; those who’ve been working for a while might be able to use their experience in lieu of kitchen or lab hours.

No matter which program you choose, accreditation is an important element you must not overlook. A cheap, quick course that promises you credentials in a few weeks might be too good to be true, but so is the expensive, extensive course if the school does not back it up with accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

A graduate of a certificate or diploma program will be able to work in the entry-level spots in restaurants, cafeterias, cafes, bistros, bakeries, hotel eateries and other outlets. They may also find themselves working more behind the scenes with food distribution companies and kitchen equipment companies, or corporate dining rooms. They may manage the floor or the kitchen of a casual dining establishment, or cater events.

Other occupations a certificate or diploma may give graduates access to include food writer, or food demonstrator, cooking workshop teacher, event coordinator and restaurant publicist.

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