How to Become a Chef Massachusetts

As New England’s biggest state by population, Massachusetts continues to transform itself so it remains an economic powerhouse. The state is a now a global leader in education, biotechnology, engineering and finance. With 80 percent of its population located in in the Greater Boston area, there is a severe chef shortage due to what at least one food writer has called a “restaurant explosion. There are more than 15,000 food and beverage establishments in the state, and Massachusetts restaurants are offering a variety of incentives to young chefs to try to attract and keep talent. These incentives range from helping pay off culinary school debt to continuing education in food and wine pairings to letting junior line cooks design a menu item each week. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Massachusetts

Massachusetts chefs don’t need either specific formal education or to be licensed by the state, but with the incentives being offered by restaurants to keep and retain talent, attending a culinary arts program can help to focus your career from the outset and ensure rapid promotion in a volatile employment market.

Culinary Arts Programs in Massachusetts

There are numerous options for formal chef training available throughout the state, from certificate programs to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. If you choose to, you can study at Boston University in a program designed by legendary chefs Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Other options include:

  • Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Cambridge. This school has been training chefs for more than 40 years and offers a Culinary Certificate Program, a Professional Chef’s Program and two pastry programs: certificate and professional. Certificate programs can be completed in just six months; the professional programs take one year. The school offers a lifetime placement program for its graduates.
  • New England Center for Arts & Technology, Boston. This full-time, weekday program is tuition-free for students who are committed to working in the food services industry and can be completed in 16 weeks. NECAT partners with food service employers to ensure its graduates are earning a living wage and have career growth opportunities. Launched in 2013, the program graduates just over 200 per year at its Boston and Everett locations.

Certification and Licensing

There are no licensing requirements for Massachusetts chefs, but given the current shortage of food service workers, employers might well be open to subsidizing American Culinary Federation certification and other continuing education.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Almost 5,000 chefs currently work in Massachusetts and earn an average of $27.48 per hour or $57,150 per year. Wages tend to be higher than in other states, to match the higher cost of living in Massachusetts generally and in the Greater Boston area in particular. Concerned about the fact that some culinary school graduates were seeking better-paying, front-of-house jobs, some restaurant owners are considering adding a hospitality administrative fee to customers’ bills to ensure back-of-house workers are better paid. Growth prospects for Massachusetts chefs are good.

Working as a Chef in Massachusetts

Most of the opportunities for chefs in Massachusetts are in the Greater Boston area, but given demand, you could work anywhere in the state. The restaurant explosion means owners are becoming more innovative to ensure they can retain their valued employees and create cultures that encourage work/life balance as well as provide decent wages.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

Barnstable Town, MA Area

Cape Cod Community College

2240 Iyannough Rd, West Barnstable, Massachusetts 02668-1599
(508) 362-2131 x4311
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Cape Cod Community College’s Certificate program in Culinary Arts is offered at their campus in the city of West Barnstable. This public college has about 3,627 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The cost of tuition for in-state students is around $4,320 and for out-of-state students in the order of $9,264 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,200, depending on the program chosen.

Massasoit Community College

One Massasoit Boulevard, Brockton, Massachusetts 02302-3996
(508) 588-9100
Pastry – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Massasoit Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Brockton in Plymouth County, MA. The college has in the order of 7,637 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be around $4,680 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $9,624 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $1,000, although this will depend on the program.

Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division Area

Boston University

One Silber Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
(617) 353-2000
Management in Hospitality – Master Program

The Master’s program in Management in Hospitality at Boston University is taught at their campus in the city of Boston, MA. Of the 32,158 students, about 44% are postgraduates. The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The cost of tuition is broadly in the order of $50,240 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,000, depending on the program.

Bristol Community College

777 Elsbree St, Fall River, Massachusetts 02720-7395
(508) 678-2811
Culinary Arts/Baking and Pastry Career – Associate Program, Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Bristol Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Fall River in Bristol County. The college has in the order of 8,761 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally in the order of $4,464 and for students from outside the state approximately $9,408 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,600, depending on the program.

Bunker Hill Community College

250 New Rutherford Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02129-2925
(617) 228-2000
Pastry Arts – Certificate Program, Baking and Pastry Arts – Associate Program

Bunker Hill Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Boston. Most of the school’s 13,142 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Fees for tuition for in-state students are around $3,888 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $8,832 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $2,100, although this will depend on the program.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Cambridge

215 First St, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142
(617) 218-8000
Pâtisserie And Baking – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are offered at their Cambridge campus in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The college has roughly 352 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $12,328 yearly.

Newbury College

129 Fisher Ave, Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
(617) 730-7000
Culinary Arts – Associate Program, Pastry Arts – Certificate Program

Newbury College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Brookline in Norfolk County. Most of the school’s 865 students are on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Tuition fees are around $33,510 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,500, depending on the program.

North Shore Community College

1 Ferncroft Rd, Danvers, Massachusetts 01923-0840
(978) 762-4000 x4350
Basic Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Nutritional Science & Diet Technology – Associate Program

North Shore Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are based at their campus in Danvers in Essex County. The majority of of the school’s 6,961 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $4,848 and for out-of-state students approximately $10,416 annually. Study materials can cost around $1,200, depending on the program chosen.

Salter College-West Boylston

184 West Boylston Suite # 1, West Boylston, Massachusetts 01583
(774) 261-1500
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Salter College’s Certificate program is taught at their West Boylston campus in West Boylston in Worcester County, Massachusetts. The college has about 348 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The cost of tuition is, as a rough guide, in the order of $16,100 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $2,783, although this varies from program to program.

Southeastern Technical Institute

250 Foundry St, South Easton, Massachusetts 02375
(508) 238-1860
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Southeastern Technical Institute is offered at their campus in South Easton in Bristol County, MA. The majority of of the school’s 121 students are on diploma programs of under two years. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The college’s retention rate for full-time students is 87%. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $11,125 annually. Learning materials may cost around $1,068, although this will vary with the program.

Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area Area

Berkshire Community College

1350 West Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201-5786
(413) 499-4660
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Berkshire Community College can be taken at their campus in Pittsfield in Berkshire County, MA. Most of the school’s 2,111 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $5,010 and for out-of-state students around $10,626 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,035, depending on the program chosen.

Springfield, MA-CT Area

Branford Hall Career Institute-Springfield Campus

189 Brookdale Drive, Springfield, Massachusetts 01104
(413) 781-2276
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Branford Hall Career Institute is offered at their Springfield campus in the city of Springfield. This private, for-profit college has in the order of 529 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. Tuition fees are usually around $16,507 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,830, depending on the program chosen.

Holyoke Community College

303 Homestead Ave, Holyoke, Massachusetts 01040
(413) 552-2000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Holyoke Community College is offered at their campus in Holyoke in Hampden County. The college has approximately 6,285 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is about $4,502 and for students from other states around $9,446 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,600, 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

See options in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.