How to Become a Chef Arizona

A chef is a leader in the kitchen, employed in restaurants, hotels, convention centers, spas, schools and hospitals. They can even be entrepreneurs and start catering or personal chef businesses or become food truck or restaurant owners. In addition to cooking, chefs may design menus, plan food orders, and train and supervise cooks. Working in Arizona as a chef can be a great opportunity to enjoy a warm climate, an exciting culinary culture and outstanding job growth. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Arizona

There are no statewide requirements for becoming a chef. Many chefs start out in restaurants as servers, line cooks or even dishwashers and learn on the job, working their way up to chef positions. Others choose to complete a culinary program before looking for work. A culinary diploma or degree program can give you the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to work in a kitchen. A degree may also negate the need to start at the bottom in the kitchen, although there is always some amount of training on the job.

Culinary Arts Programs in Arizona

An academic program in culinary arts is a great way to start a career as a cook, chef, baker or food service manager. Look for programs that are accredited and that offer plenty of hands-on practical learning.

  • Scottsdale Community College, Scottsdale. There are several culinary programs at SCC, and the associate’s degree program in culinary arts is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission. It has been given exemplary status by the commission. The school also offers two-year degrees in commercial bakery and pastry arts and culinary fundamentals, as well as shorter certificate programs in each of these subjects. Students have the chance to learn and work in the two campus restaurants.
  • Arizona Culinary Institute, Scottsdale. ACI offers a few culinary programs, including a certificate in culinary arts and a longer diploma program that includes courses in baking and restaurant management. You can also choose to earn a certificate in baking and pastry. The programs can be completed in eight months or less and include hands-on work experience. All programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges.
  • Pima Community College, Tucson. In Tucson, students can complete the associate’s degree program in culinary arts at Pima. The two-year program includes cooking as well as business skills like budgeting and management. Examples of courses include culinary principles, sauces, dining room operations and principles of restaurant operations.

Certification and Licensing

You do not need to be certified or licensed to work as a chef or cook in Arizona. However, there are some benefits of becoming certified. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers 16 different areas of specialization and certification. In order to become certified, you have to pass a practical and a written test in that area. Examples for types of ACF certification include certified executive chef, certified sous chef, personal certified chef and certified fundamentals cook.

While certifications like those offered by ACF are not needed to begin working in this field, there are good reasons to work toward one or more of these credentials. A certification can help you land the job you want, and you may be able to command a higher salary with it.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

There is strong growth in all types of culinary careers in Arizona right now. Between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth for chefs and head cooks will be 26 percent, which means there will be more than 600 new positions available for qualified workers in that time period. Other areas seeing strong growth include cooks, food preparation workers and servers, institutional and cafeteria cooks, and bakers.

Salary expectations vary by culinary career. In Arizona in 2017, chefs and head cooks made $41,740 per year on average, while cooks earned $28,160. The top 10 percent of earners in those careers made $67,340 and $39,240, respectively. Food service managers can earn $56,480 on average, while the top earners make over $98,000 per year in Arizona.

Working as a Chef in Arizona

About half of all chefs and cooks work in restaurants and other types of places where people eat. Other options for careers include catering and working as a personal chef, restaurant management, and school cafeteria management and nutrition.

In Arizona, there is strong growth in this industry throughout the state. But you’ll find the most opportunities for employment in and around Phoenix and Tucson, the two largest cities, both of which have thriving food cultures.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

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Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ Area

Mohave Community College

1971 Jagerson Ave, Kingman, Arizona 86409-1238
(928) 757-4331
Baking & Pastry – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management – Associate Program

Mohave Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Kingman in Mohave County. The majority of of the school’s 4,360 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are in the order of $2,112 and for students from outside the state approximately $6,972 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $810, although this will depend on the program.

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ Area

Arizona Culinary Institute

10585 N 114th St Ste 401, Scottsdale, Arizona 85259
(480) 603-1066
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Culinary Arts Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Arizona Culinary Institute is based at their campus in the city of Scottsdale, AZ. This private, for-profit college has about 94 students in total, with the majority of students on programs that last under 2 years. The Culinary Arts program, with a duration of 55 credit hours, is the college’s largest program. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is over 80%. The cost of tuition is in the order of $25,990 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,805, although this will vary with the program.

Central Arizona College

8470 N Overfield Rd, Coolidge, Arizona 85128-9030
(520) 494-5444
Baking and Pastry – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Central Arizona College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Coolidge in Pinal County. The college has in the order of 5,849 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly about $2,520 and for students from other states around $10,980 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,400, although this will vary with the program.

Estrella Mountain Community College

3000 N Dysart Rd, Avondale, Arizona 85392-1000
(623) 935-8000
Baking and Pastry – Certificate Program

Estrella Mountain Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in Avondale in Maricopa County, Arizona. Most of the school’s 9,303 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $2,094 and for students from other states likely to be about $7,878 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,288, although this varies from program to program.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Scottsdale

8100 E Camelback Rd, Suite 1001, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251-2729
(480) 425-3000
Pâtisserie And Baking – Associate Program, Pâtisserie And Baking – Certificate Program

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their Scottsdale campus in the city of Scottsdale. The college has in the region of 1,431 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Tuition fees are around $13,138 yearly.

Mesa Community College

1833 W Southern Ave, Mesa, Arizona 85202
(480) 461-7000
Sustainable Food Systems – Certificate Program, Sustainable Food Systems – Associate Program

Mesa Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Mesa. Most of the school’s 21,491 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $2,094 and for students from outside the state in the order of $7,878 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,288, although this will vary with the program.

Phoenix College

1202 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85013
(602) 264-2492
Baking and Pastry – Certificate Program

Phoenix College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Phoenix. This public college has in the region of 11,865 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually around $2,094 and for out-of-state students in the order of $7,878 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,288, depending on the program chosen.

Scottsdale Community College

9000 E Chaparral Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85256
(480) 423-6000
Commercial Bakery and Pastry Arts – Certificate Program, Commercial Bakery and Pastry Arts – Associate Program

Scottsdale Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Scottsdale in Maricopa County, Arizona. Most of the school’s 10,083 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $2,094 and for out-of-state students approximately $7,878 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,288, although this will depend on the program.

The Art Institute of Phoenix

2233 W Dunlap Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-2859
(602) 678-4300
Baking & Pastry – Associate Program, Hospitality Food & Beverage Management – Certificate Program

The Art Institute of Phoenix offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Phoenix. This private, for-profit college has roughly 999 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Fees for tuition are about $17,412 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,500, although this varies from program to program.

Southeast Arizona nonmetropolitan area Area

Cochise County Community College District

4190 W Highway 80, Douglas, Arizona 85607-6190
(520) 515-0500
Chef Patissier – Baker’s Apprentice – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Cochise County Community College District offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are based at their campus in Douglas in Cochise County. This public college has approximately 4,437 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually about $1,896 and for students from other states in the order of $6,000 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,800, depending on the program chosen.

Tucson, AZ Area

Pima Community College

4905C East Broadway Blvd., Tucson, Arizona 85709-1275
(520) 206-4500
Baker’s Helper – Certificate Program

Pima Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Tucson. This public college has about 26,880 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition for in-state students are around $2,046 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $7,362 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,600, depending on the program chosen.

Yuma, AZ Area

Arizona Western College

2020 S. Avenue 8E, Yuma, Arizona 85365-8834
(928) 317-6000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Arizona Western College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are based at their campus in the city of Yuma, Arizona. The college has in the region of 7,514 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually around $2,600 and for out-of-state students in the order of $9,590 per year. Books and supplies can cost in the order of $1,517, although this will depend 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 Arizona may also wish to review their options in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.