If you’re really passionate about cooking and are serious about making a career out of it, there are things you should know first. Sure, you’ll learn how to use your knives and sous vide a steak, but you could also be signing up for long hours and little starting pay. As with any big decision, there are a lot of options to weigh, and we’re here to help. Scroll down to read about the harsh truths of culinary school before you sign on the dotted line.

1. You may be broke afterward. Private culinary school isn’t cheap, and your student loans could reflect that. If you want to pinch your pennies, a lot of community colleges offer culinary programs that you may not know about.

2. It does not mean job security. Yes, a culinary degree helps get your foot in the door, but having experience is just as (if not more) important. Most line cooks start training from a young age and work their way up without any schooling. Try starting small with an internship while taking classes to climb the ladder while getting an education.

4. You need a thick skin. Many culinary professors aren’t the most tender of creatures. While it may seem harsh at the time, it’ll prepare you for what the environment is really like in a professional kitchen. If you do want to work on the line in a restaurant, it’s probably best that you’re exposed to that before you go home crying on your first day of work.

5. The hours aren’t for the weary. Prepare for your nights, weekends, and holidays to be non-existent. Think about it. When do people go out to eat? When restaurants are at their busiest, that’s the time you’ll wish you were off eating with your friends instead of cooking for them. On the plus side, you get to sleep while they’re at work.

6. Some of your credits may not transfer. You may have a bachelor’s degree in communication, but you still might have to re-take that public speaking class. This depends on what school you attended and what school you’ll be going to, but there’s a chance that you’ll have to start from scratch — even with entry level courses.

7. You can’t be squeamish. Food allergies are an exception, but if you’re just scared of handling the live lobster, your instructor is going to roast you. If the thought of stuffing sausage in a casing and scaling fish sounds like a bad dream, then maybe you should go down the baking and pastry route and not culinary arts.

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