How to Become a Chef Georgia

If you have a passion for food, why not turn it into a lucrative career? It can be so rewarding to earn money doing what you love, and learning to be a professional chef or cook doesn’t take long. Georgia is a great choice of a location to start this career, especially in the big city of Atlanta. The thriving food scene means that you will have great opportunities to learn, train and work your way up to a leadership position in a kitchen. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Georgia

Georgia does not require that you have any specific education or type of training to begin working in the culinary industry. You also do not have to be licensed by the state. You have a choice of two main paths to becoming a chef: train and learn on the job, which usually requires starting at the bottom possibly as a dishwasher or bar back, or complete a post-secondary, certificate, diploma or two-year associate’s degree program before seeking a job.

Culinary Arts Programs in Georgia

Earning a degree or diploma in culinary arts, pastry or food service management is a smart way to begin a culinary career, because it means you don’t have to start at the bottom of the kitchen ladder. Even with an education, though, expect to have to train on the job and work your way up to leadership roles.

Look for programs in Georgia that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC). All of the following options are ACFEFAC-accredited:

  • Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta. Atlanta Tech offers students the opportunity to earn a two-year degree or a diploma in culinary arts. Students may also complete technical certificate programs in food production, prep cook, culinary nutrition manager or culinary nutrition assistant. The degree program includes 68 course credits and costs about $10,912 in tuition and fees.
  • The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta. The International Culinary School offers several diplomas and degrees in culinary arts, all of which are designated as exemplary by the ACFEFAC. Programs include associate degrees or diplomas in culinary arts or baking and pastry, and four-year degrees in culinary arts management or food and beverage management.
  • Savannah Technical College, Savannah. The Savannah Culinary Institute offers both diplomas and associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. It also has two technical certificates in prep cook and food production worker. The two-year degree program includes 65 credit hours and courses in the classroom as well as in the kitchen.

Certification and Licensing

Chefs and cooks do not need to be licensed or certified, but it can help with landing a job and with earning a greater salary to have national certification. You can seek out certification through the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which has 16 specializations. These include areas like fundamentals, culinarian, sous chef, chef de cuisine and executive chef, as well as pastry chef specialties. To qualify, you must pass a written and a practical exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Georgia is currently seeing overall growth in culinary jobs, although there is some variation by type of job. Positions for chefs and head cooks are growing by 9.3 percent, while those for bakers are growing by nearly 15 percent. The only declines are in jobs for fast food cooks and line cooks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Choosing a career as a cook or chef in Georgia will give you the chance to earn a great salary. Cooks and head chefs earn $21.86 per hour and $45,480 per year on average. Those who make the most in those positions earn $70,560 per year on average. The biggest earners in the industry are food service managers, who make up to an average of $74,500 per year.

Working as a Chef in Georgia

Georgia has a unique culinary tradition, rich in southern foods and dishes. To work here in a kitchen can be a real dream for anyone with a passion for food and cooking. Georgia has several large and medium-sized cities with great food scenes where you should find it easy to land a first culinary job: Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Athens. Expect to find most jobs in restaurants, but also look at hotels and resorts, conference centers, schools and hospitals.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

Albany, GA Area

Albany Technical College

1704 South Slappey Boulevard, Albany, Georgia 31701
(229) 430-3500 x0656
Culinary Professional Assistant – Certificate Program

Albany Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Albany. This public college has in the region of 3,331 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally in the order of $2,654 and for students from outside the state approximately $4,794 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $800, although this varies from program to program.

Athens-Clarke County, GA Area

Athens Technical College

800 U.S. Hwy 29 North, Athens, Georgia 30601
(706) 355-5000
Baking and Pastry Specialist – Certificate Program

Athens Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Athens. The college has in the region of 4,199 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $2,794 and for out-of-state students around $4,930 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $900, depending on the program.

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Area

Atlanta Technical College

1560 Metropolitan Pkwy SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30310-4446
(404) 225-4400
Culinary Nutrition Assistant – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Atlanta Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Atlanta. The college has approximately 3,789 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is around $2,756 and for out-of-state students around $4,892 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,100, depending on the program chosen.

Chattahoochee Technical College

980 S Cobb Drive Dr SE, Marietta, Georgia 30060
(770) 528-4545
Culinary Arts – Associate Program, Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Chattahoochee Technical College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Marietta in Cobb County, Georgia. The majority of of the school’s 9,817 students are 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 $2,746 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $4,882 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $1,050, although this will depend on the program.

Gwinnett Technical College

5150 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-5702
(770) 962-7580 x0
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Gwinnett Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County, GA. The majority of of the school’s 6,959 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is in the order of $2,796 and for students from outside the state in the order of $4,932 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,750, although this will vary with the program.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Atlanta

1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker, Georgia 30084
(770) 938-4711
Pâtisserie And Baking – Certificate Program, Pâtisserie And Baking – Associate Program

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their Atlanta campus in Tucker in Dekalb County, GA. The college has about 1,113 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Tuition fees are generally around $13,120 annually.

Southern Crescent Technical College

501 Varsity Rd, Griffin, Georgia 30223-2042
(770) 228-7348
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Southern Crescent Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are offered at their campus in Griffin in Spalding County. Most of the school’s 4,867 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 usually about $2,758 and for students from other states in the order of $4,894 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,500, depending on the program chosen.

The Art Institute of Atlanta

6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd., 100 Embassy Row, Atlanta, Georgia 30328-1635
(770) 394-8300
Baking & Pastry – Associate Program, Baking & Pastry – Certificate Program

The Art Institute of Atlanta offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Atlanta. This private, for-profit college has roughly 2,249 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition are about $17,592 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,500, depending on the program.

West Georgia Technical College

176 Murphy Campus Blvd., Waco, Georgia 30182
(770) 537-6000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

West Georgia Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Waco in Haralson County, GA. The majority of of the school’s 6,431 students are 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 about $2,764 and for students from other states likely to be about $4,900 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,358, although this varies from program to program.

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Area

Augusta Technical College

3200 Augusta Tech Drive, Augusta, Georgia 30906
(706) 771-4000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Augusta Technical College’s Certificate program is taught at their campus in the city of Augusta. The majority of of the school’s 4,490 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-state students are in the order of $2,704 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $4,840 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $2,000, depending on the program.

Columbus, GA-AL Area

Columbus Technical College

928 Manchester Expy, Columbus, Georgia 31904-6572
(706) 641-5684
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Columbus Technical College’s Certificate program is based at their campus in the city of Columbus. The majority of of the school’s 3,800 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is about $2,704 and for students from other states in the order of $4,840 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,465, depending on the program chosen.

East Georgia nonmetropolitan area Area

Ogeechee Technical College

One Joseph E. Kennedy Blvd, Statesboro, Georgia 30458
(912) 681-5500
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Ogeechee Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the town of Statesboro. The college has in the region of 2,068 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition for in-state students are in the order of $2,872 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $5,008 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,231, although this will vary with the program.

Macon, GA Area

Helms College

5171 Eisenhower Parkway, Macon, Georgia 31206-5309
(478) 475-9995
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Helms College’s Certificate program in Culinary Arts is offered at their campus in the city of Macon. The college has about 151 students in total, with the majority of students on programs that last under 2 years. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training. Fees for tuition are about $16,259 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $2,375, although this will depend on the program.

Middle Georgia nonmetropolitan area Area

South Georgia Technical College

900 South GA Tech Parkway, Americus, Georgia 31709
(229) 931-2394
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

South Georgia Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Americus in Sumter County. The majority of of the school’s 1,668 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 usually about $2,744 and for students from other states in the order of $4,880 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $400, although this will vary with the program.

North Georgia nonmetropolitan area Area

North Georgia Technical College

1500 Georgia Hwy 197 N, Clarkesville, Georgia 30523
(706) 754-7700
Baking and Pastry Specialist – Certificate Program

North Georgia Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in Clarkesville in Habersham County, GA. The college has in the region of 2,665 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. Tuition fees for in-state students are about $2,734 and for students from other states approximately $4,870 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $837, although this varies from program to program.

Rome, GA Area

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

One Maurice Culberson Drive, Rome, Georgia 30161
(706) 295-6963
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Georgia Northwestern 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 Rome. The college has roughly 5,874 students in total, with the majority of 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 in-state students is usually about $2,764 and for students from other states in the order of $4,900 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,500, depending on the program chosen.

Savannah, GA Area

Savannah Technical College

5717 White Bluff Rd, Savannah, Georgia 31405-5594
(912) 443-5700
Culinary Baking & Pastry Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Baking & Pastry Arts – Associate Program

Savannah Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Savannah. Most of the school’s 4,196 students are 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 about $2,704 and for students from other states likely to be about $4,840 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,100, although this varies from program to program.

Virginia College-Savannah

14045 Abercorn Street, Suite 1503, Savannah, Georgia 31419-2371
(912) 721-5600 x2627
Pastry Arts – Certificate Program

Virginia College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. All programs are imparted at their Savannah campus in the city of Savannah, Georgia. The college has in the region of 425 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. Fees for tuition are usually about $14,632 per year.

South Georgia nonmetropolitan area Area

Coastal Pines Technical College

1701 Carswell Ave, Waycross, Georgia 31503
(912) 287-5818
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Coastal Pines Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the town of Waycross. This public college has in the order of 2,445 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. Fees for tuition are about $4,785 for each academic year. Books and supplies can cost roughly $1,099, although this will depend on the program.

Valdosta, GA Area

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

4089 Val Tech Rd, Valdosta, Georgia 31602-0929
(229) 333-2100
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Valdosta in Lowndes County. The majority of of the school’s 3,708 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $2,744 and for out-of-state students approximately $4,880 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,276, although this will depend on the program.

Warner Robins, GA Area

Central Georgia Technical College

80 Cohen Walker Drive, Warner Robins, Georgia 31088
(478) 757-3400
Hospitality Operations – Certificate Program

The Hospitality Operations Certificate program in Hospitality Operations at Central Georgia Technical College can be taken at their campus in the city of Warner Robins, Georgia. The college has about 7,832 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. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is in the order of $2,714 and for students from outside the state around $4,810 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,390, although this varies from program to 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 Georgia may also wish to review their options in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.