How to Become a Chef in West Virginia
West Virginia is home to beautiful mountain landscapes, picture-perfect valleys, whitewater rapids and a surprising culinary scene, especially in the state’s larger cities. If you have a passion for cooking and for food in general, consider becoming a chef or a cook in West Virginia. There is positive growth in the industry right now and few requirements for starting out in a kitchen job. [En Español]
Requirements for Becoming a Chef in West Virginia
Most employers of kitchen staff like to see that new workers have at least a high school diploma or a GED, but beyond this there are no requirements for being a cook or chef. You don’t have to have a specific education, a degree or certification or licensing. You can either begin at the bottom in a professional kitchen with a chef willing to train you and work your way up to a cook or leadership role, or you can enroll in a post-secondary program.
A certificate or degree from a culinary school is a smart way to start out in this industry. Most programs take two years or less to complete, and they provide you with the foundational knowledge and the hands-on skills you need. With an education, you can show employers that you would be an asset to their kitchen.
Culinary Arts Programs in West Virginia
The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC) accredits culinary programs in the U.S. Although you don’t have to attend an accredited school in order to get a good education, it’s a good place to start your search. There are three programs currently operating in West Virginia with ACFEFAC accreditation:
- Pierpont Community and Technical College, Fairmont. Pierpont has two programs that are not only accredited but also hold exemplary status from the ACFEFAC. Students can choose between two associate’s degree programs in culinary arts, one with a focus on general culinary arts and the other on baking and pastry. Both programs take about two years to complete and include 60 credit hours of coursework and kitchen laboratory work.
- West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling. In Wheeling, students can choose between a culinary arts associate’s degree and a shorter certificate program. The certificate program takes just one year to complete. Both courses of study provide instruction in a variety of subjects as well as hands-on work in the kitchen. Both prepare students for entry-level kitchen work, but the two-year program provides more depth and more hands-on experience.
- James Rumsey Technical Institute, Martinsburg. At the Martinsburg campus, students can complete a certificate program in culinary arts. The program includes classroom learning and kitchen laboratory work. It follows ServSafe guidelines and teaches students practical skills and safety standards for working in a kitchen. The curriculum includes beverage education and matching drinks with foods.
Certification and Licensing
You do not need to be licensed or certified to work as a cook or a chef in West Virginia. However, holding one or more certifications in things like pastry, culinary skills and management can help you earn a higher salary and give you more job opportunities. A standard for certification in the industry is the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF offers 16 types of culinary certifications and requires that you pass a written and a practical exam to earn any certification.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
In West Virginia, currently there is growth in most areas of the culinary industry. The only types of jobs that are not growing in number are those for fast food and short order cooks. Jobs for chefs and head cooks are up by 3.6 percent; positions for restaurant cooks not in leadership roles are growing by 5.1 percent; and the strongest growth is for bakers, with the number of jobs available increasing by 5.5 percent.
Salaries for culinary jobs can vary a lot in West Virginia. Expect to earn more with work experience and with certifications. In 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs and head cooks earned an average of $51,940 per year, but those with the highest salaries were making $71,360 on average. Food service managers make an average of $48,680 per year.
Working as a Chef in West Virginia
If you hope to live and work in West Virginia, you should find that there are many opportunities for jobs in culinary fields. With an education especially, you will be qualified to work in a restaurant, hotel, cafeteria, hospital or school or for a catering company. With experience and education, you can even become an entrepreneur and start your own food truck or restaurant or become a personal chef. Look for the most jobs available in West Virginia’s population centers of Charleston, Huntington and Morgantown.
4799 Midland Dr, Charleston, West Virginia 25306-6397
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program
The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Carver Career Center can be taken at their campus in Charleston in Kanawha County, West Virginia. The majority of of the school’s 223 students are on 2-year programs. Fees for tuition are usually about $5,310 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $2,000, depending on the program chosen.
300 Roosevelt Boulevard, Eleanor, West Virginia 25070-0640
(304) 586-3494 x4421
Prostart Restaurant Management – Certificate Program
The Certificate program in Prostart Restaurant Management at Putnam Career and Technical Center is based at their campus in Eleanor in Putnam County. This public college has about 108 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are generally in the order of $5,084 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,104, although this will vary with the program.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Martinsburg in Berkeley County. The majority of of the school’s 5,552 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 roughly in the order of $3,864 and for students from outside the state around $6,984 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,364, although this varies from program to program.
3274 Hedgesville Road, Martinsburg, West Virginia 25403-0259
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program
The Culinary Arts Certificate program in Culinary Arts at James Rumsey Technical Institute is taught at their campus in Martinsburg in Berkeley County. The college has around 128 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition is in the order of $6,024 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $2,143, depending on the program.
One Mountwest Way, Huntington, West Virginia 25701
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program
Mountwest Community and Technical College’s Certificate program in Culinary Arts is based at their campus in Huntington in Cabell County. The majority of of the school’s 1,775 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 generally about $3,888 and for students from other states approximately $9,672 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,357, although this will depend on the program.
West Virginia Northern Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Wheeling. The majority of of the school’s 2,013 students are 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 likely to be about $3,684 and for students from other states likely to be about $10,620 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,135, 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.