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Chefs and Head Cooks oversee daily food preparation at restaurants and other venues. They are employed by restaurants, resorts, amusement/gambling/recreation facilities, and private households, often working early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. The work can be hectic and fast-paced, but opportunities are outstanding for those who love the kitchen and embrace culinary artistry and creativity. Related occupations include bakers, cooks, food and beverage serving and related workers, food preparation workers, and food service managers.

Iowa Valley Grinnell’s Culinary Program

This is a hands-on apprenticeship program that includes 6,000 hours of full-time work to develop skills in addition to selected classroom experiences. This program leads to a Culinary Apprenticeship AAS degree, as well as Journeyman status through a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship. Part-time classroom work (on Mondays) is combined with full-time paid work in the industry, completed within a three-year period of time. Apprenticeship is the classic training method of chefs and cooks still used almost exclusively in Europe.

One of the many appealing aspects of an apprenticeship is that students receive paid training while they learn, enabling many to complete the degree with little or no student debt! Apprentices earn competitive wages, a paycheck from day one, and incremental raises as skill levels increase. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average wage for a fully-proficient worker who completed an apprenticeship translates to approximately $60,000 annually. Apprentices who complete their program earn approximately $300,000 more over their careers compared to non-apprenticeship participants.

The Department of Labor defines a journeyman as an expert who started out as an apprentice and who now knows the trade inside and out. The journeyman is available to instruct, oversee, correct and support an apprentice, who may have little or no job-related experience. In addition to on-site supervision, a journeyman may teach apprenticeship courses at technical schools or online.

  • A two-year Culinary Apprenticeship Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree for those who want hands-on training as well as Journeyman status through the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • A two-year Culinary Arts Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is designed in the traditional classroom-based model with hands-on opportunities during the program and some real-life experiences.

The links under Degrees Awarded (below) specifies our different program course requirements.

Food Preparation Careers & Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment in food preparation and serving occupations is expected to increase 9% through 2026 (about as fast as the average for all occupations), for a gain of about 1.2 million jobs. Population and income growth are expected to result in greater consumer demand for food at a variety of dining places. Employment of Chefs and Head Cooks is projected to grow 10%, faster than the average for all occupations. Most career opportunities for Chefs and Head Cooks will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Follow these links to find additional up-to-date information on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook web pages:

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