How to Become a Chef Wisconsin

Personal chefs, master chefs, sous chefs and culinary assistants—all of these culinary arts positions are available for achievement with hard work in the kitchen, culinary training and certification. Chefs and head cooks in Wisconsin are paid very well and have a favorable career outlook in the next decade. While cooks prepare food according to order, chefs often give orders to the kitchen staff. Cooks can work their way up the ladder in the kitchen, gaining experience and respect on the way. Culinary school is another excellent way for culinary artists to achieve upper ranking career status. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Chef in Wisconsin

There are no general requirements for chefs or cooks in Wisconsin. Food safety managers, however, require Wisconsin certification. Other licenses culinary artists may need depending on where they work are food safety certifications, such as ServSafe, or liquor licenses if applicable.

Culinary Arts Training and Educational Programs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s strong network of technical colleges offers quality culinary arts programs across the state. Some of the best Wisconsin culinary arts schools include:

  • Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). The Business College at MATC offers an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts at the downtown Milwaukee and Oak Creek campuses. While students pursue this degree, they can earn the Food Service Assistant and Culinary Assistant Technical Diplomas.
  • Madison Area Technical College. For students in the Madison area, this public technical school offers an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts in conjunction with a Culinary Arts Technical Diploma.Culinary classes are available at the MATC-Truax campus on a part-time or full-time basis.

Certification for Becoming a Chef in Wisconsin

The most employer-appraised types of culinary arts certifications are those accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Wisconsin’s technical school network offers culinary arts training programs, along with scholarships, to Wisconsin residents statewide. ACF certifications range from Certified Fundamentals Cook to Personal Certified Executive Chef, offering a buildable range of goals for those in the culinary arts field. Most ACF certifications must be renewed every three to five years.

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

Chefs and head cooks receive excellent pay in Wisconsin. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that these upper-level culinary artists’ mean income in 2017 was $22.85 per hour. Food service managers earned even more, at a mean income of $23.25 per hour. Entry-level cook positions in Wisconsin paid, on average, $10 to $14 per hour.

Chefs and head cooks in Wisconsin have a positive career outlook, with the BLS predicting a 10.1 percent increase in their employment level by 2026. Restaurant cooks are predicted to be in even higher demand, with a predicted 13.7 percent growth in employment.

Working as a Chef in Wisconsin

Milwaukee and Madison employed the most restaurant cooks in 2017, according to the BLS. These two cities also paid restaurant cooks at higher mean income rates than the Wisconsin state average—around $12 per hour. There are strong career opportunities available in Wisconsin for those who want careers working with gourmet foods or managing kitchens, as long as they gain experience and keep growing and improving as culinary artists.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

Appleton, WI Area

Fox Valley Technical College

1825 N Bluemound Dr, Appleton, Wisconsin 54912-2277
(920) 735-5600
Culinary Arts – Associate Program, Food Service Production – Certificate Program

Fox Valley Technical College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in Appleton in Outagamie County, WI. The college has in the order of 10,901 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. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be in the order of $4,436 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $6,391 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $1,820, although this will depend on the program.

Eastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area Area

Lakeshore Technical College

1290 North Avenue, Cleveland, Wisconsin 53015-1414
(920) 693-1000 x1192
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

Lakeshore Technical College’s Certificate-level Culinary Arts program is taught at their campus in Cleveland in Manitowoc County, WI. The college has in the order of 2,837 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. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $4,125 and for students from other states likely to be about $6,081 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,820, depending on the program.

Fond du Lac, WI Area

Moraine Park Technical College

235 N National Avenue, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 54936-1940
(920) 929-2483
Culinary Arts – Associate Program, Culinary Assistant – Certificate Program

Moraine Park Technical College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Fond du Lac, WI. Most of the school’s 6,294 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 students living in the state is around $4,340 and for out-of-state students around $6,295 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,819, depending on the program.

La Crosse, WI-MN Area

Western Technical College

400 Seventh St. North, La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601
(608) 785-9200
Food Preparation Assistant – Certificate Program

Western Technical College’s Certificate-level Food Preparation Assistant program is offered at their campus in the city of La Crosse. The majority of of the school’s 4,044 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 $3,776 and for out-of-state students approximately $6,166 annually. Study materials can cost around $1,616, depending on the program chosen.

Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division Area

Gateway Technical College

3520 30th Ave, Kenosha, Wisconsin 53144-1690
(262) 564-2200
Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Gateway Technical College’s Associate program is taught at their campus in Kenosha in Kenosha County, WI. Most of the school’s 8,740 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 about $4,152 and for students from other states in the order of $6,106 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $1,819, depending on the program.

Madison, WI Area

Madison Area Technical College

1701 Wright St, Madison, Wisconsin 53704-2599
(608) 246-6100
Baking & Decorative Arts – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Madison Area 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 Madison. Of the 16,520 students, about 0% are postgraduates. 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 in the order of $4,281 and for students from outside the state around $6,236 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,820, depending on the program.

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Area

Milwaukee Area Technical College

700 W State St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233-1443
(414) 297-6370
Baking Production – Certificate Program, Baking and Pastry Arts – Associate Program

Milwaukee Area 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 Milwaukee. This public college has in the order of 15,186 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. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $4,426 and for out-of-state students approximately $6,381 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,819, although this will depend on the program.

Waukesha County Technical College

800 Main Street, Pewaukee, Wisconsin 53072-4601
(262) 691-5566
Baking/Pastry – Certificate Program

Waukesha County Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in Pewaukee in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. This public college has about 7,928 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 students living in the state is roughly in the order of $4,340 and for students from outside the state around $6,206 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,820, although this varies from program to program.

Northern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area Area

Nicolet Area Technical College

5364 College Drive, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501-0518
(715) 365-4410
Baking – Certificate Program

Nicolet Area Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in Rhinelander in Oneida County, Wisconsin. The majority of of the school’s 1,048 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally 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 $4,642 and for students from outside the state approximately $6,963 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,818, although this will depend on the program.

Racine, WI Area

Shepherds College

1805 15th Avenue, Union Grove, Wisconsin 53182-1527
(262) 878-6365
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Shepherds College can be taken at their campus in the town of Union Grove. Most of the school’s 55 students are on 2-year programs. The Culinary Arts program, with a duration of 2700 contact hours, is the college’s largest program. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are broadly about $114,000 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $600, depending on the program.

South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area Area

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

1800 Bronson Blvd, Fennimore, Wisconsin 53809-9778
(608) 822-3262
Culinary Specialist – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts – Associate Program

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Fennimore in Grant County, WI. The college has in the order of 2,114 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 in the order of $4,340 and for students from outside the state in the order of $6,204 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,820, although this will vary with 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 Wisconsin may also wish to review their options in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.