Cooking Instructors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for a career as a cooking instructor, take high school courses in family and consumer science, English, math, business, and science. Since many cooking terms are derived from the French language, you might want to take French. Other foreign languages that might be useful include Spanish and Italian. Speech and communications courses will help you prepare for speaking in front of groups of people. Teachers use computers to do research, write reports, and calculate and report grades. Increase your computer comfort level by taking all the computer science classes your school has to offer. Finally, take as many culinary arts courses as you can; these may be offered by your school, but also by local community organizations or your park district.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers ProStart, a two-year career-building program for high school students who are interested in careers in the culinary arts and foodservice management. Students gain experience in the field via classes and mentored work experience in foodservice operations. They also have the opportunity to participate in the National ProStart Invitational, a culinary and management competition in which students demonstrate their skills and compete for scholarships. Visit for more information.

Postsecondary Education

Before becoming a cooking instructor, you’ll need to train to become a cook or chef. Cooks and chefs receive their training via formal postsecondary training, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training. The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission accredits secondary and postsecondary culinary education programs. Visit its Web site,, for a list of accredited programs.

Culinary arts institutions typically require teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and at least three years experience in the restaurant or food service industries.

Some cooking instructors earn degrees in education, and augment their training with classes in the culinary arts.

Other Education or Training

The American Culinary Federation offers online courses, many of which can be applied toward certification requirements. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation provides weeklong intensive workshops for culinary educators. The International Association of Culinary Professionals, Canadian Culinary Federation, and the Restaurants Canada also offer continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification and Licensing

The American Culinary Federation offers the certified secondary culinary educator and certified culinary educator designations. In addition to educational and experience requirements, candidates must also pass written and practical tests for each certification. The federation also offers a variety of certification categories for chefs. Certification for cooks and chefs is also provided by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Research Chefs Association, and the United States Personal Chef Association. Certification is recommended as a way to enhance your professional standing and advance your career.

Public middle and high school teachers must be licensed under regulations established by the department of education of the state in which they teach. Not all states require licensure for teachers in private or parochial schools.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience cooking or teaching others to cook will be useful for aspiring cooking instructors. Practice making recipes at home or get a job as a cook at a restaurant. Teach your friends and family how to make your favorite dish. Culinary arts institutions typically require teachers to have at least three years’ experience in the restaurant or food service industries, so you should obtain a position as a cook, chef, or food service worker to start accruing this experience. 

Cooking instructors need to have excellent teaching and communication skills. They need to be energetic and have a passion for cooking and teaching others. Other important traits include patience and good organizational and time-management skills.