Once upon a time, a member of the workforce would get a job in their early 20s and stay in that same job until retirement.
These days, most adults change careers — not jobs, careers — five to seven times before they retire.
Career changes aren’t only a “young person’s” game. Older adults can also change careers with great success. In fact, one study showed that 82% of career changes over the age of 45 were successful!
So if you love to cook, here’s why you should consider culinary school — at any age.
Jump Start Your New (or Existing) Career
Maybe you’re thinking about a culinary career. Or maybe you’re already working in the field, but you’d like to improve your opportunities for advancement.
Working your way up the ladder takes years, but a culinary school education can help you get a jump start! Students are able to build a foundation of knife skills, sanitation guidelines, and cooking techniques under the watchful eyes of experienced Chef Instructors, without the pressures of a busy working kitchen.
As an older graduate, you can bring a wide variety of life experiences to the table that employers may not find in the students that went from high school to culinary school. With a longer resume that includes a degree or diploma, older adults demonstrate strong work ethic and people skills.
“[Older students are] coming in with a lot of life experience. They may have had an IT career before or some supervisory position before, and they can run up the ladder incredibly quickly. And I think it’s something that employers really need to know. Yes, they’re coming in with [culinary] skill, but they’re actually coming in with some other very relevant business skills as well.”
Tracy Teichman, Escoffier Corporate Partnerships Director
Plus, culinary school is fun! Immerse yourself in food and food culture. Learn from talented Chef Instructors, and start building a network of like-minded food lovers. No matter what your culinary career goals, attending school can help you start off on the right foot.
Even if you already work in the industry, adding culinary school to your resume could help you to advance and fill in any knowledge gaps. Online Culinary Arts graduate Anthony Avasakdi attended Escoffier after 30 years in the food business!
“I always felt that it is important to have education on your side to reinforce what you get in the workforce. Learning in school and learning on the job are very much different from each other. Today classical cooking and learning the basics of true culinary arts skills is not taught in the career world, but in school you can learn that, and I feel that it is a core part of culinary arts that every chef should have the opportunity to learn.”
Anthony Avasakdi, Online Culinary Arts Graduate
Culinary School Isn’t Only for Restaurant Chefs
Older foodies may love to cook, but long shifts in a hot kitchen aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Fortunately, there are dozens of different career paths that culinary school students can take.
A culinary education opens doors all over the world of food! You could set up a small cottage food business from your own home, making treats to sell at the local farmer’s market. You could start a food blog or vlog, sharing your passion with an audience all over the world. Or stay closer to home, teaching young people in your community tips and tricks.
“There’s so many different directions to go with this education. You know, you do food blogs, you can do YouTube…be a personal chef, a home chef, start a little catering business…there’s just so many other things you can do besides working on a line in a kitchen with this education.”
Escoffier Chef Instructor John Hummel
The culinary world is full of the entrepreneurial spirit. And at Escoffier, that spirit is reflected in the curriculum. It’s about more than cooking — it’s about providing the tools graduates need to start their own businesses and be leaders in the industry.
Students in our ground campus Associate Degree and Online Culinary Arts programs complete coursework in writing a business plan, foodservice accounting, and business ethics — all geared toward helping them start their own entrepreneurial journeys.
We’re Retiring Later Than Ever
“This all sounds great,” you may be thinking. “But at my age?”
Well let’s talk about that!
When the standard retirement age of 65 was formally established in 1935, the average life expectancy for Americans was just under 62 years. By 2019, life expectancy had risen to nearly 79.
With so many years to look forward to past the traditional age of retirement, it’s no wonder many older adults are pushing it off. For some, it’s a financial necessity. For others, they want to stay active. A 50-year-old could have 15, 20, or 25 years of work ahead of them! And that’s plenty of time to start and excel at an exciting new career!
On the flip side, that’s also a long time to go through the motions at a career that isn’t fulfilling. Sounds risky.
“I think it’s really hard when you’re young to know your passion. I mean, I’m in my mid-50s. And I’m now finally working in my career of choice, not a job to pay the bills.”Rhonda Adkins, Escoffier Online Graduate and Food Photographer
You Can Learn From Your Own Home
For older adults, jumping into a classroom with 18-year-olds can sound intimidating. But with online culinary school, you can earn get a degree or diploma from your own kitchen!
Online degree and diploma programs from Escoffier include readings, lesson videos, and live professional chef instruction. Students then complete cooking assignments on their own. They’ll use tools like the Escoffier Flavor Wheel to explore flavor profiles, and return photos and a written summary to be assessed by Chef Instructors.
Just like on-campus students, online students will complete a culinary externship where they can get hands-on experience and see how a commercial kitchen works.
Online culinary school also allows you to complete your program while working a full-time job and spending time with your family. So you don’t have to choose between continuing to make an income and starting your new career.
You’ll still be able to network with your Chef Instructors and fellow students through message boards and video chats. But you’ll be able to work on your assignments in your own time, as long as you meet the deadlines.
And if you find yourself struggling with the school environment after some time away, every Escoffier student has a Success Coach to help them. Your Success Coach can help you troubleshoot any issues and work with you to come up with a solution.
So whether you’re having a hard time adjusting, or just technical difficulties, your Success Coach will be there to help you along the way.
Get Job Placement Assistance
What happens after you finish your program?
Depending on your goals, it may be time to get a job.
Escoffier’s Career Services department provides job placement assistance, starting with your culinary externship and continuing as long as you’re working in the culinary industry. Services include resume writing help, interview prep, and industry referrals.
You’ll also have access to the Escoffier Alumni Association, where you can continue to connect with past and new graduates for advice, tips, and networking opportunities.
It’s Never Too Late!
So often, we think, “If I start now, I’ll be xx-years-old in two years when I finish.” Just remember — if you don’t start now, you’ll still be the same age in two years. But you won’t have a wealth of knowledge and a degree or diploma from culinary school to back it up.
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