There are several paths to masters in culinary arts! You've seen the celebrities -- they're probably the very best paid in this industry. Restaurant owners, franchisers. Those are the multi-millionaires.
You can have more of a lifestyle restaurant. Today, food trucks and catering companies are more profitable and flexible than a brick-and-mortar place. It could be a joy to create a in-person community with a cafe, coffee shop, or fine dining establishment.
In the back of the house, the chef is the most highly paid. I used to work in the dining room as wait staff, and I remember that prep cook is the first step to becoming a cook or chef. In some restaurants, there is a hierarchy with roles like sous chef, pastry chef, so you can work through all the roles and then specialize.
If you want to be the most valuable employee, you might learn about supply chain management (procurement and ordering) and/or HR best practices. Then you can ask for the highest salaries and even get equity in the businesses you work for. Eventually, you could become a consultant and have your own business that way. Institutions can also have big budgets, and there are private clubs in most cities that have really nice kitchens serving meals for their members. You could even become a teacher at a technical college or give cooking classes through a social service agency if you enjoy educating others.
Serah recommends the following next steps:
- Journal about the best food experiences you can remember and consider the people who made it happen. What roles did they play? Do you see yourself in any of them?
- Make a list of the jobs or roles in culinary arts that interest you most. Here are some resources: https://www.theartcareerproject.com/careers/culinary-arts/; https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/73384
- Determine how much income you need for your living expenses, gifts, and savings goals. Break this down by month and hour. A quick formula is to take the hourly rate and multiply it by 2,000 hours to get an approximate annual salary. ($20/hr * 40 hours/wk * 50 weeks = $40,000/yr). Then you know what is 'need' versus 'want' when you are looking for work.
- Research typical salaries for the roles that interest you most. If you own a food business, you have higher potential but also face different risks than as an employee. Here are some weaknesses: http://salarybystate.org/tag/highest-paying-states-for-culinary-jobs; https://www.reluctantgourmet.com/top-paying-culinary-careers/