Food Preparation Certificate Programs with Course Information

Find out about the common courses taught in a food preparation certificate program. Read about where these programs are available, entry-level career paths and salary information.

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Essential Information

A food preparation certificate program can prepare an individual to work under the supervision of a chef in a restaurant or private home. Those enrolled in a food preparation or food handler's certificate program, which are widely available and take one year or less to finish, learn how to safely and effectively prepare a variety of meals. Admissions requirements vary by school and can range from simply a high school diploma to food handling experience.

Food Preparation Certificate

Most food preparation certificate programs are offered through community colleges, trade schools or food safety organizations. Such programs typically take between a semester and a year to complete, although accelerated programs exist for experienced chefs who are simply looking for a quick credential in food preparation.

Some 4-year universities offer food preparation certificate programs as part of larger degree programs in restaurant management, culinary arts, or family and consumer science. A food preparation certificate program is not the same as a traditional culinary program, and does not focus on baking or creating recipes.

Education Prerequisites

For many 2-year colleges and trade schools, students need typically only prove that they graduated from high school or earned a GED in order to enroll. Universities and other 4-year schools generally have more stringent prerequisites, such as the satisfactory standardized test scores. Some food preparation and food handler certificate programs accept only those students who have gained some kitchen experience, while others are open to beginners in the culinary world.

Program Coursework

While enrolled in a food preparation certificate program, students must complete courses that teach them how to properly handle, prepare and store items such as meats, vegetables, fruits and dried foods. Other courses teach students the regulations behind cleaning and sanitizing kitchens and tools, keeping work surfaces and countertops clean, properly cutting food, and preparing simple meals, such as salads.

Students enrolled in a certificate program in food preparation learn how to stay safe in a commercial or industrial kitchen. They also learn the basics of food safety and sanitation. Some course topics addressed in such a program are listed below:

  • Food preparation
  • Food purchasing
  • Sanitation guidelines
  • Kitchen safety
  • Quantity and quality in food preparation
  • Introduction to foodservice
  • Restaurant internship
  • Cost control operations
  • Food storage and care
  • Cold food preparation

Popular Career Options

A few careers are available for individuals who have completed a certificate program in food preparation. Most are entry-level, but do leave some room for advancement. Some examples include:

  • Prep chef
  • Food handler
  • Chef de cuisine
  • Kitchen manager
  • Personal chef
  • Organizational cook
  • Restaurant manager
  • Line cook
  • Assistant chef

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated there were 813,700 food preparation workers in 2010. That figure was projected to increase by 10% from 2010-2020. The mean wages for food preparation workers were $20,910 in May 2012. Those working as chefs and head cooks were projected to see little or no change from 2010-2020, stated the BLS. The mean wages for chefs and head cooks were $46,570 in May 2012.

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