How to Become a Chef Mississippi

A chef is the head of the kitchen. Chef duties will vary depending on where they work, but most often they will cook, plan the menu and supervise kitchen staff. Chefs who run their own catering business or restaurant will also handle administrative tasks like hiring and firing staff, managing money and placing orders. Known for its southern cuisine, including catfish and fried green tomatoes, Mississippi is a prime location to consider a career as a chef. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Mississippi

In Mississippi, there are no statewide certification or educational requirements for becoming a chef. This is a job that is best learned through hands-on training and experience. Most chefs start their career by working from the bottom up, starting in the kitchen as a dishwasher or as a server. Completing an apprenticeship or culinary diploma or degree program is also an option, which will provide you with some of the basic knowledge and skills needed to work as a cook or chef. You may also be able to avoid some of the “dirty work of lower-level kitchen work if you start out as an apprentice or with a diploma under your belt. A high school diploma or GED will be required to enroll in a post-secondary program or apprenticeship.

Culinary Arts Programs in Mississippi

While a formal education is not necessary to work in the kitchen, certain knowledge and skills are required to work as a chef, and these are best learned through training and experience. You can get a jumpstart on that training by getting a culinary arts degree. You may go further in your career or earn a higher salary by completing educational training.

There are several ways you can study culinary arts. You may attend a culinary school or complete a culinary arts degree program offered at either a community college or university. Culinary schools have programs that can be completed in anywhere from one to four years and focus strictly on culinary arts. You can complete a two-year (associate’s) degree in culinary arts at a community college, and a four-year (bachelor’s) degree in culinary arts at a university. Bachelor’s degree programs, as well as some associate’s programs, will also teach business and managerial skills.

While Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Jackson have a strong culinary presence in the state, Mississippi has several schools that offer culinary arts programs.

  • Hinds Community College. The Jackson Academic and Technical Center as well as the Utica and Vicksburg-Warren campuses of Hinds Community College offer a two-year Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Culinary Arts. Students will receive a foundational education in cooking and cuisine and work with a variety of commercial kitchen appliances and equipment. Hinds also offers a technical certificate and AAS degree programs in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Travel and Tourism Management Technology.
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The Jefferson Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers a one-year culinary arts certificate program and a two-year AAS in culinary arts. These programs cover methods of cooking and explore American, classical and international cuisine. Baking and pastry arts are also covered.

There are other ways to gain education and experience in culinary arts throughout the state. Joining a local chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) will provide you not only with educational opportunities but also networking opportunities. Attending or participating in one of the many food-themed state festivals, such as the World Catfish Festival or Natchez Food and Wine Festival are other ways to gain experience in this field.

Certification and Licensing

You do not have to be certified or licensed if you want to work as a chef in Mississippi. However, certification may help you with career advancement or help you to earn more. The ACF offers more than a dozen certification specifications including Certified Executive Chef and Personal Certified Chef. You must pass a practical and written exam in the area in which you choose to gain certification.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a chef or head cook in the state of Mississippi is $21.55 hourly, or $44,820 annually. The highest earners in the state can make as much as $65,010 annually. Actual salary will depend on several factors including where in the state you work, how much experience you have and any credentials you may hold.

In 2016, there were approximately 800 chefs employed in the state. That number is predicted to increase by 11.9 percent to 900 in the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.

Working as a Chef in Mississippi

Most chefs or cooks can be found working in restaurants, hotels, hospital cafeterias or dining halls or other eating establishments. Some chefs may work as personal chefs, or they may even run their own catering businesses. Some choose to work their way up to the coveted position of head cook, while others may focus on a specialty, like pastry chef.

With a strong growth rate in this career predicted for Mississippi, there are plenty of opportunities for work throughout the state. However, most of the work may be found in the cities of Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Jackson. If you have a passion for cooking and are willing to put in the time and dedication to master the craft of culinary art, you should consider working as a chef in Mississippi.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

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Gulfport-Biloxi, MS Area

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

51 Main Street, Perkinston, Mississippi 39573
(866) 735-1122
Baking & Pastry Arts Technology – Certificate Program, Baking & Pastry Arts Technology – Associate Program

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Perkinston in Stone County, Mississippi. This public college has in the order of 9,391 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. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $3,272 and for out-of-state students approximately $6,072 annually. Study materials can cost around $860, depending on the program chosen.

Jackson, MS Area

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

1001 Co-Lin Lane, Wesson, Mississippi 39191
(601) 643-5101
Culinary Arts Technology – Certificate Program, Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology – Associate Program

Copiah-Lincoln Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Wesson in Copiah County. The majority of of the school’s 3,098 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 students living in the state is roughly about $2,730 and for students from other states around $4,730 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program.

Hinds Community College

608 Hinds Boulevard, Raymond, Mississippi 39154
(601) 857-5261
Culinary Arts Technology – Certificate Program, Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology – Associate Program

Hinds Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are offered at their campus in Raymond in Hinds County. The majority of of the school’s 11,935 students are 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 around $2,840 and for out-of-state students approximately $5,640 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,600, although this will depend on the program.

Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area Area

Mississippi University for Women

1100 College Street, Columbus, Mississippi 39701
(662) 329-4750
Culinary Arts – Bachelor Program

The Bachelor’s degree program in Culinary Arts at Mississippi University for Women can be taken at their campus in the town of Columbus, Mississippi. Of the 2,673 students, about 8% are postgraduates. The university is 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 $6,065 and for students from outside the state around $16,634 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,500, although this will vary with the program.

Northeast Mississippi Community College

101 Cunningham Blvd, Booneville, Mississippi 38829
(662) 728-7751
Culinary Arts Technology – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts Technology – Associate Program

Northeast Mississippi Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the town of Booneville, MS. The college has in the region of 3,569 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 students living in the state is roughly about $2,732 and for students from other states in the order of $4,982 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,600, although this will vary with the program.

Northwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area Area

Coahoma Community College

3240 Friars Point Rd, Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614
(662) 627-2571
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Coahoma Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Clarksdale in Coahoma County. This public college has roughly 2,148 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 $2,603 annually. Learning materials may cost around $800, although this will vary with the program.

Mississippi Delta Community College

Hwy 3 and Cherry St, Moorhead, Mississippi 38761
(662) 246-6322
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts Technology – Associate Program

Mississippi Delta Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are offered at their campus in the town of Moorhead. This public college has around 2,402 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 $2,650 and for students from other states in the order of $4,258 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,400, depending on the program chosen.

Southeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area Area

East Central Community College

15738 Highway 15, Decatur, Mississippi 39327-0129
(601) 635-2111
Culinary Arts Technology – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts Technology – Associate Program

East Central Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Decatur in Newton County. This public college has in the order of 2,558 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 $2,290 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $4,390 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,280, although this will vary with the program.

East Mississippi Community College

1512 Kemper Street, Scooba, Mississippi 39358-0158
(662) 476-5000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

East Mississippi Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Scooba in Kemper County. The majority of of the school’s 4,259 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 students living in the state is in the order of $2,840 and for students from outside the state around $5,240 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,200, although this will vary with the program.

Jones County Junior College

900 South Court Street, Ellisville, Mississippi 39437
(601) 477-4000
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Jones County Junior College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the town of Ellisville, MS. The college has about 4,727 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 roughly about $3,000 and for students from other states around $5,000 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program chosen.

Meridian Community College

910 Hwy 19 N, Meridian, Mississippi 39307-5801
(601) 483-8241
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Meridian Community College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are offered at their campus in the town of Meridian, Mississippi. The college has in the region of 3,381 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 around $2,440 and for out-of-state students approximately $3,740 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,800, 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

See options in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.