How to Become a Chef Alabama

A career in the world of culinary arts is fast-paced and exciting, with plenty of potential for variety and advancement. Anyone with a passion for food and service who is looking for a new career, or those who are graduating college and looking for a career in the trades, should consider a career in the culinary arts, which includes baking, cooking, food preparation and administration. [En Español]

Chefs are typically in charge of everything to do with restaurant kitchens. They lead and coordinate everything that goes on in a kitchen, including staff coordination, menu planning, food safety and overseeing equipment and supplies. Chefs are managers of restaurants in that they, alongside actual restaurant managers, guide budgets and make final decisions on most aspects of food service and pricing.

Throughout the U.S., there will be about 20,300 job openings annually for chefs in the next several years, with a projected job growth rate of about 9.6 percent.

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Alabama

Those looking to build careers as chefs in Alabama will want to get as much experience in professional kitchens as possible. They should familiarize themselves with local cooking trends as well as the local food economy. Hands-on experience should be complimented by an associate’s degree or certificate from a recognized trade school. Educational programs typically include job placement programs, which can lead to both networking and long-term employment opportunities.

Culinary Arts Training and Educational Programs in Alabama

Those looking to build a culinary career in the state of Alabama have quite a few options. Well-reputed culinary schools in the state include:

  • Culinard. This Birmingham school offers a 36-week course to train as a chef as well as a variety of other specialty associate’s degrees in the culinary arts sector.
  • Trenholm Technical College. Trenholm offers a variety of Culinary Arts degrees, including associate’s degrees and management-focused certificates, which are recognized by the American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission.

Certification for Becoming a Chef in Alabama

Though it is not necessary to have formal education to become a chef, most restaurants will prefer to hire people with at least some post-secondary training. People considering going into this field should have a certificate, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a recognized training institution. Those looking to move up the ladder should also bear in mind that courses in business management and hospitality will give them a competitive edge. Culinary professionals should consider earning national certification via the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Chefs and Culinary Artists in Alabama

Alabama is home to some 54,710 culinary arts professionals, including butchers, bakers, cooks and managers, and demand is expected to grow for workers in this field, with over 8,000 job openings expected per year.

As of 2017 there are about 880 chefs and head cooks employed in the state of Alabama, a number that is expected to increase to about 700 as of 2026, with about 90 positions opening per year. These culinary professionals earn an average hourly salary of $24.00, which equates to about $50,360 per year. A chef’s salary is higher than anyone in the culinary arts field except food service managers, who earn an annual average of $63,760 in Alabama.

Working as a Chef in Alabama

Alabama is a great state for culinary professionals to pursue a career in the field, as demand will remain steady for restaurant cooks looking to get more experience in the field. Though landing a career as a chef is competitive in any state, the hospitality industry is strong in urban locations, such as Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama, making them ideal spots for those in the culinary arts.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

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Birmingham-Hoover, AL Area

Virginia College-Birmingham

488 Palisades Blvd., Birmingham, Alabama 35209
(205) 802-1200
Pastry Arts – Certificate Program

Virginia College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their Birmingham campus in the city of Birmingham. Of the 2,138 students, about 3% are postgraduates. The cost of tuition is in the order of $14,632 yearly.

Huntsville, AL Area

J F Drake State Community and Technical College

3421 Meridian St N, Huntsville, Alabama 35811
(256) 539-8161
Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management – Associate Program

J F Drake State Community and Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Huntsville, Alabama. This public college has in the order of 996 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be in the order of $4,350 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $7,860 yearly, while study materials may cost about $2,000, depending on the program.

Mobile, AL Area

Virginia College-Mobile

3725 Airport Blvd, Suite 165, Mobile, Alabama 36608
(251) 343-7227
Pastry Arts – Certificate Program

Virginia College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. All programs are taught at their Mobile campus in the city of Mobile, Alabama. This private, for-profit college has in the order of 418 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Tuition fees are generally around $14,632 annually.

Montgomery, AL Area

H Councill Trenholm State Community College

1225 Air Base Blvd, Montgomery, Alabama 36108-3199
(334) 420-4200
Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management – Associate Program

H Councill Trenholm State Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. The college has in the region of 1,401 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is around $4,134 and for out-of-state students around $7,644 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,800, depending on the program chosen.

Northwest Alabama nonmetropolitan area Area

George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville

801 Main St NW, Hanceville, Alabama 35077-2000
(256) 352-8000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

George C Wallace State Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are taught at their Hanceville campus in the town of Hanceville, AL. The majority of of the school’s 5,418 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is about $4,380 and for students from other states in the order of $7,890 per year, while books and supplies may cost about $1,400, although this varies from program to program.

Tuscaloosa, AL Area

Shelton State Community College

9500 Old Greensboro Rd, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35405-8522
(205) 391-2211
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Shelton State Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Tuscaloosa, AL. The college has roughly 4,834 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is about $4,107 and for students from other states around $7,617 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,800, depending on the program.

* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of Alabama may also wish to review their options in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.