I have been contemplating for some time now on taking the American Brewers Guild CB course. But, before spending $8000 on the course, I have a question. Is now a good time to get into the industry as far as the availability of jobs? Particularly in California. Also, is the competition pretty stiff, IE: new brew grad's vs brew vets?
Thanks for all the reply's.
If brewing is what you really want to do, go for it. Since you are in California there are certainly plenty of breweries. I would suggest that you talk to some of the brewers in your area and see about job availability after your schooling. It also depends on how far and if you would be willing to move for the right job. I am in Texas and have been very fortunate to have found three jobs in this state enabling me to stay here. Also my guess is that the school has placement assistance of some sort for its graduates. The brewers in your area will have a better idea of the job market in California. Good Luck!
Eight grand, eh? Well, you should know that brewing jobs aren't generally very high-paying. You probably will have to pay some dues as an assistant brewer for a bit, and those kinds of jobs often pay less than $20K a year. Figure a year or two at that level, most likely. Then, brewmaster jobs often run $25K - $40K, which still isn't exactly killer good pay.
Not to say they ALL pay that low. Some pay considerably more, but all-in-all my experience is that brewing usually isn't something that's going to make a person wealthy.
Brewing school is a great way to learn very important basic information, particularly as regards microbiology and chemistry. Ah, but doing something like working as an assistant brewer for a brewpub in a college town, while getting a degree in, yep, microbiology or chemistry might be an even better way to go, being as how your education won't be so narrowly focused that it doesn't help getting work in other fields.
I personally took the homebrewer/assistant brewer/production brewer/brewmaster path during my six-year brewing career. My educational background was in journalism (!), and nowadays I'm a musician with a day job. If I had chosen to stay in brewing, I would've gone back for the microbiology coursework on my own, rather than going to a brewing-specific school.
Tim said about what I would. If you got money to burn school is great, but why not get into a brewery as a keg washer/bottling guy and learn the ropes? That way you get to see what being a brewer is really about before you spend the dough and time. If your passionate about beer, brewing is a great job, but like Tim says the pay aint great and the reality is youll spend most of your time cleaning, sanitizing, and trouble shooting equipment etc. Its a good idea to know what your getting into.