culinary careers

Culinary Skills and Career Paths: Where Can Your Hard Work Lead?

Now that you have finished culinary school, what's the career path for you?

Alumni of the Institute of Culinary Education work in many different aspects of the restaurant industry, in the United States and beyond. Once you complete culinary school, you’ll need to select a career path — and there are many different roles where your skills and creativity can shine. In this post, we’ll highlight just a few of the many culinary careers that students can pursue.

Potential Career Pathways for Culinary School Students

Though you may have a dream of working as an executive chef of a fine dining restaurant or even owning your own restaurant, that’s not the only path you can take after completing your culinary education. The restaurant and hospitality industry offers a wide range of opportunities and specializations, such as:


Graduates who love the business side of the restaurant industry may be well-suited to roles in hospitality management. Hotels, event centers, and larger restaurants often have purchasing managers, who buy and manage ingredients and supplies. This career path can eventually lead to becoming a general manager, overseeing all aspects of restaurant operations, from hiring and training staff to payroll and vendor partnerships.

Read More: Mastering the Art of Purchasing >

Catering and Events

Caterers and catering managers work to prepare food for events like wedding receptions, conferences, fundraisers, and other celebrations. Because they often prepare food offsite, catering managers are logistics experts. They also have an opportunity to display their creativity through food and beverage presentation.

Pastry Arts

If your focus is pastry arts, you may have the goal of becoming a pastry chef. Within this field, there are many specialties. For example, bakery owners, concentrating on bread, bagels or pies. Or, perhaps you want to express your creativity by working as a cake decorator. The job market for bakers is strong: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be around 28,300 job openings in the U.S. each year until 2030.


You’re probably familiar with companies like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Sunbasket, who deliver fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes directly to their customer’s homes. Home-delivery meal kits have exploded in popularity in recent years, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Yahoo Finance, the global meal kit market is expected to grow into a $12 million industry in the next few years. These services require culinary professionals to develop, test, and refine their user-friendly recipes.

Artisanal Food

Interest in local, sustainable, and organic food has been on the rise for decades now, and culinary school graduates can pursue pathways in artisanal food production such as cheesemaking, beekeeping, and butchery. Craft beer brewing and cider making are also potential career opportunities.

Read More on Cheese: 5 Major Cheese Styles Every Chef Should Know >


Some graduates are interested in the intersection of food, health, and wellness. Known as health-supportive culinary arts, this field focuses on using fresh and seasonal ingredients to help individuals live healthier lives. Students may go on to pursue careers as chefs, registered dietitians, personal chefs, or cookbook authors.

Food Media & Influencers

From magazines to blogs to social media, there are many outlets and audiences in search of graduates with food and cooking expertise. Life after culinary school can lead to working as a social media influencer, photographer, food stylist, restaurant reviewer, or food journalist.

Find Career-Focused Education at the Institute of Culinary Education

If you’re ready to take the next step in your education, attending culinary school may be the right decision for you. At the Institute of Culinary Education, we offer career programs at our campuses in New York and Los Angeles, as well as a fully online program in Culinary Arts & Food Operations. Ranked as the #1 Culinary School in America by  USA Today, our courses are taught by chef-instructors with extensive industry experience.

Students at the Institute of Culinary Education have access to a wide array of career resources, including:

For more details on our in-person programs or online culinary school, request info or apply online today.

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