Choose a Cooking School Program in Iowa

The bread won’t be the only thing rising in the restaurant industry in the next 10 years. The National Restaurant Association projects a 7.2 percent growth in the number of restaurant jobs in Iowa by 2019, or the addition of about 10,500 jobs. Whether your interests lie in traditional cooking, pastry making, or overseeing the business end of a kitchen, Iowa schools offer a diverse menu of programs to prepare you to take advantage of those new opportunities. No reservations required.

Finding and Getting into a Quality School

When choosing a culinary program, it is important to look for some key components. A well-equipped kitchen that is student-run and open to the public is the cornerstone of a good program. And the program should be run by experienced instructors or chefs. Also look for a school that has good opportunities for applying practical skills, such as internships or apprenticeships. The Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College, one of the top culinary schools in the state, has a study abroad program in France, regular gourmet dinner nights that are open to the public, and the chance to study wine production through its Mid-American Wine Competition. At Eastern Iowa Community College District, the program is apprenticeship-based, and students study and work at restaurants in the area.

Admissions to culinary programs usually require no more than a high-school diploma or GED and an application and fee. Some programs may require an assessment, which may measure knowledge of basic kitchen practices and recipe techniques. Others may consider work experience or other training, such as seminars and conferences or personal research into culinary techniques or the industry.

Options for Completing a Degree

Most culinary programs take only two years to complete, though some schools have one-year certificate programs. Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids features one-year certificates in Bakery and Food Services Assistant. But degrees in Culinary Arts, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Hospitality and Food Sciences typically take two years to complete.

Online programs are not common, as much of the program involves training in hands-on techniques. Some online programs serve as complements to previous lab instruction, emphasizing courses in business and theory to complete the degree. Online cooking classes are available, but they are often for the casual cook and not the budding professional.

The list below showcases the top schools with culinary programs, as well as numerous other options for degrees in hospitality or hotel and restaurant management.

Prospects in the Job Market

Downtown Des Moines & the Des Moines River.

With so much opportunity for growth in the industry, salary is primed to stay competitive. But education isn’t the only factor in determining salary. Experience, including internships and apprenticeships, are significant in determining salary. Geographical location will also have an impact, as larger metropolitan areas will offer higher salaries. And, of course, position and location will be the biggest determining factors. Higher salaries will be made at fine-dining restaurants, as well as hotels, resorts and spas, and individuals who hire private or personal chefs. The lowest wages are found at institutional cafeterias, casual restaurants and diners, and cruise ships. Executive chefs will be paid the highest, followed in order by sous chefs, assistant chefs, line cooks and station cooks. A Registered Dietitian earns an average annual salary of $52,000; a first-line supervisor will earn about $34,350; a head chef will earn approximately $42,080; and a restaurant cook earns an average salary of around $25,690.

2019 wage data sourced from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Current wage conditions in your area may vary.

Other ways to increase marketability in the job market include attending local food and wine festivals that offer cooking competitions or the chance to meet celebrity guest chefs. Some of the top food and wine festivals in Iowa include the Rib America Festival, The Sioux City Chili and Salsa Cook-off and the West Point Sweet Corn Festival. Professional organizations like the Iowa Restaurant Association or the American Hotel and Lodging Association offer opportunities for networking or continued education through national and regional conferences and seminars.

Campus-based Schools in Iowa and Degrees Offered

Eastern Iowa Community College District
306 West River Drive
Davenport, IA 52801
Culinary Arts
Hospitality Management
Events Management
HLC Accredited

Indian Hills Community College
525 Grandview Ave.
Ottumwa, IA 52501
Culinary Arts
HLC & ACF Accredited

Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College
2006 South Ankeny Blvd.
Ankeny, IA 50023
Culinary Arts
Hospitality Business
Hotel and Restaurant Management
NCASC Accredited

Iowa Lakes Community College
3200 College Drive
Emmetsburg, IA 50536
Hotel and Restaurant Management

Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management
Food and Nutrition Studies
Culinary Science
HLC Accredited

Iowa Western Community College
2700 College Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Culinary Arts
Restaurant and Hospitality Management
HLC & IDE Accredited

Kirkwood Community College
6301 Kirkwood Blvd., SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Culinary Arts
Hotel Management
Restaurant Management
Bakery (one-year program)
Food Services Assistant (one-year program)
NCASC Accredited

North Iowa Area Community College
500 College Drive
Mason City, IA 50401-7299
Hospitality/Food Service
HLC Accredited

Online-based Instruction Available Nationwide

American Culinary Federation
The ACF has over 200 chapters in the United States; its main campus is located in Florida
180 Center Place Way
St. Augustine, FL
Continuing Education
Chef Certification
Chef Educators
Food Safety Certification
ACFEFAC Accredited

The Art Institutes of Pittsburgh – Online Division
The Ai has over 40 campus locations across North America, plus this online campus
420 Blvd of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA
Hotel and Restaurant Management
Culinary Management
MSCHE Accredited

Ashworth College
430 Technology Pkwy
Norcross, GA
Professional Gourmet Cooking and Catering
Hotel and Restaurant Management
DETC Accredited

DeVry University
This University has 90 campus locations in 26 different states
One Tower Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL
Hospitality Management
HLC Accredited

eCornell is an online program and subsidiary of Cornell University, located in New York
950 Danby Road, Suite 150
Ithaca, NY
Leadership and Strategic Management
Project Leadership and Systems Design
Financial Management
Management Essentials
Human Resources Management
Hospitality and Foodservice Management
Certificate in plant-based nutrition
HRCI and PMI Approved

Johnson and Wales University
JWU has campuses in Providence, Charlotte, and North Miami; its largest campus is in Rhode Island
8 Abbott Park Place, Providence, RI 02903
Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management
Culinary Arts and Food Service Management
NEASC Accredited

New England Culinary Institute
NECI has two campuses in Vermont; its main campus is in Montpelier
56 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Hospitality and Restaurant Management
ACCSC Accredited

Penn Foster Career School
925 Oak Street
Scranton, PA 18515
Hotel and Restaurant Management
DETC & CHEA Accredited

Sullivan University
SU has three campuses in Louisville, Lexington and Fort Knox. The main campus for its Global e-Learning program is located in Louisville
2100 Gardiner Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40205
Beverage Management
CCSACS & ACF Accredited

University of Phoenix
This University has campuses in over 40 states, and two locations in Canada
4602 East Elwood Street
Phoenix, AZ
Hospitality, Travel and Tourism
HLC Accredited

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