Cake Decorating Schools in the U.S.
An education in cake decorating is typically offered as part of a program in baking and pastry arts at a 2-year community college or in an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to work as a full-time paid employee while receiving training.
How to Select a Cake Decorating School
Students interested in cake decorating schools might consider the different types of training programs offered. Certificate programs are available that focus specifically on cake decorating techniques, or students can find certificate programs that provide basic training in baking and pastry making, potentially including a class on cake decorating. Associate's degrees take longer to complete, but they fulfill all of the basic culinary requirements and allow time to take more advanced classes.
While both of these types of programs include practical training, students that would prefer to learn almost exclusively through hands-on learning may want to consider an apprenticeship, which allows a student to work and train full-time under certified chefs.
Another consideration when searching for schools is accreditation. Students can look for programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF accredits programs offering a certificate or associate's degree in baking and pastry arts and regulates apprenticeship programs across the country. Graduates of an ACF-accredited pastry arts program are eligible to receive a Certified Pastry Culinarian certification as soon as one year of entry-level work is completed. The ACF also offers scholarships for students pursuing an education in the culinary arts.
Students may want to consider a school's history of career placement success. Schools with more robust career counseling services or a better placement history may be an attraction for some students.
Cake Decorating Program Overviews
Certificate in Cake Decorating, Baking and Pastry
Certificate programs are available specifically focused on cake decorating. These short programs are generally not ACF-accredited, but they offer basic and advanced training in icing types and cake design. Courses cover tiered cakes, icing flowers, rolled fondant and marzipan. ACF-accredited certificate programs usually take one year to complete. Typical courses include food safety, baking techniques, baked goods presentation and dessert decoration. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required prior to admission.
Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts
Associate's degrees in baking and pastry arts take about two years to complete. Almost every state has at least one accredited program. Students complete courses in basic culinary education, such as sanitation and food preparation, along with general education courses. Advanced courses in the pastry track may include plated dessert design and chocolate artistry. In cake decorating courses, students learn about wedding cakes, finishing techniques, commercial decorating equipment and decorating products. An internship is also required. A high school diploma or the equivalent is a prerequisite for admission.
Apprenticeship in Baking and Pastry Arts
The ACF offers multiple apprenticeship options for students wanting to learn the culinary arts. The apprenticeships are run by local ACF chapters. Programs that include training in baking and pastry-making take 2-3 years to complete. In that time, students work under the supervision of an ACF-certified chef and participate in 4,000-6,000 hours of hands-on training. Students also complete at least 445 hours of classroom time. There are fees for registration and for maintaining one's student ACF membership, but otherwise, apprentices are paid a full-time hourly wage. Students must be 17 years old and hold a high school diploma or the equivalent to begin an apprenticeship.
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