Culinary school gains popularity among the laid off reports that laid off workers with grim job prospects in their current fields are pursuing culinary education in droves, hoping to land one of the 1.8 million jobs the restaurant industry is expected to add over the next decade.

I'm not enough of an expert on the food industry to know whether it's a good field to enter right now, although the decline in consumer spending has most restaurants closing locations and cutting staff, not opening new ones and adding.

But for people who are considering pursuing training in the culinary arts, I have this request: Please, please, please avoid for-profit programs with private student loans bearing double-digit interest rates.

Culinary arts programs can provide students with among the most toxic financing plans on the planet and a bad decision in picking a program and payment plan can literally ruin your life. In 2007, Suze Orman did a segment on a poor soul who took out $40,000 in high interest loans to become a pastry chef. When Suze spoke with her, she has more than $500 per month in loan payments and a job paying $7 per hour.

If you're considering going to school for culinary training, do this first: Log-on to the website of your local community college and see what they have in the way of culinary programs. Many offer a certificate program in culinary arts at a tiny fraction of what private programs cost, and you may also qualify for financial aid or low interest loans.

Some of the private programs may be better, and you can always go to those later if you decide it's something you have a tremendous aptitude for and interest in.
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