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Apprenticeship Program

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Chef Apprenticeship Program at El Centro College


What is it?

The Chef Apprenticeship Training Program is an on-the-job training program whereby an individual (the apprentice) contracts with a qualified culinary facility such as a hotel, restaurant, country club, hospital, etc. (known as a sponsoring house) to be employed and trained for 6,000 hours based on the training program devised by the US Department of Labor and the American Culinary Federation. At the same time the individual is enrolled at El Centro College and must complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in either Culinary Arts or Bakery/Pastry. The US Department of Labor registers this program as a recognized apprenticeship training program. The duration of the program is a minimum of 6,000 hours. The US Department of Labor monitors the progress of each apprentice during training.

Who is the Apprentice?

Any individual who is 18 years of age, who holds a high school diploma or the equivalent and who is eligible to work in the USA. If accepted by the facility he/she becomes a full-time employee at the facility.

Other requirements

Individuals must have an El Centro College student identification number, and meet all admissions testing requirements for the Food & Hospitality Institute culinary arts and bakery/pastry degree plans, in order to apply to the program. Once accepted the individual must be interviewed by a sponsoring house/supervising chef and meet all the employment requirements of the facility.

What is a Qualified Culinary Facility?

A qualified culinary facility for the purposes of the Chef Apprenticeship Program is a facility that meets the following requirements:
  1. Employs as its executive chef (supervising chef) an individual who has or is eligible for one of the following qualifications: CCC, CEC, CMC, CEPC or holds an Associates or Bachelor degree or higher in culinary arts or related studies from an accredited college/university in the USA.
  2. Offers full service menu with at least 51% of the items are prepared from scratch.
  3. Serves at least two of the following meal periods/experiences: breakfast, lunch, dinner, banquets and/or off-premise catering.
  4. Is recognized as a legal entity by the State of Texas and the United States government.
  5. Provides full-time employment for the apprentice. This is usually between 30-40 hours each week.

What is the Culinary Arts Instruction?

El Centro College will provide the related instruction according to the Standards of Apprenticeship document approved by the US Department of Labor. This includes 3-4 classes each fall and spring and 2-3 classes each summer. All courses apply to either the culinary arts or bakery/pastry Associates of Applied Science degrees. There are several practicum and coop classes beyond the degree plans which are required for apprentices.

Are the apprentices paid?

Apprentices are paid the rate set by the Chef Apprenticeship Committee and El Centro College and approved by the US DOL. That rate is currently $9.25 per hour. Sponsoring houses may pay more according to their staffing and HR policies. The Standards of Apprenticeship provide for annual pay increases according to the published schedule. Employers may offer other pay raises according to their policies and procedures.

When do apprentices go to school?

The supervising chef and the apprentice will agree on a schedule for classroom instruction each semester. Apprentices will register for the agreed upon classes and the supervising chef will ensure the apprentice’s work schedule is adjusted accordingly to allow for regular attendance. During fall and spring semesters classroom courses meet for 3 hours one day each week and lab courses meet for 6 hours each week (usually 3 hours per day for two days in a row). The class schedule for summer semester is more intensive due to the shortened semesters.

Each apprentice must complete all course requirements for the respective degree they are seeking for successful completion of this apprenticeship.

Who pays for the classroom instruction?

The apprentice is responsible for all expenses while attending El Centro College. However, many companies offer tuition reimbursement plans and other programs as a part of their benefit packages for full time employees. Furthermore, there are many scholarships available to students in the Food & Hospitality Institute at El Centro College.

What happens if an apprentice drops out of El Centro College?

If an apprentice drops out of El Centro College then he or she is automatically dropped from the apprenticeship program. He or she may apply to the Apprenticeship Committee for reinstatement at a later date.

What happens if an apprentice quits the job at their Sponsoring House?

If an apprentice quits their job then he or she is automatically dropped from the apprenticeship program. He or she may apply to the Apprenticeship Committee for reinstatement at a later date.

What happens at the end of training?

Upon successful completion of 6,000 hours of on-the-job training as well as completion of all required El Centro courses and receipt of the Associates of Applied Science degree apprentices will receive the Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from the United States Department of Labor. In addition, apprentices are eligible to apply for certification as a Certified Culinarian or Certified Sous Chef (depending on your documented job experience) from the American Culinary Federation.

Questions or concerns?

James Knifong
Apprenticeship Coordinator/Chef Instructor
For details about graduation rates, program costs and other important information, view the gainful employment disclosure.