Pastry Education Requirements and Career Information
Pastry education allows aspiring pastry chefs to gain knowledge and experience in the pastry arts. Certificate programs and degree programs at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree levels train pastry chefs for careers baking breads, cakes and specialty desserts.
Education Requirements for Pastry Chefs
A culinary school education is highly desired by most employers of pastry chefs. A pastry education combines theory and practical education. Most programs require students to work in a student-run public bakery or restaurant to hone their skills and gain industry experience. Completion of a pastry education prepares a student for entry-level work in restaurants, hotels, catering companies and retail establishments. Widely available pastry arts programs offer a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree.
Pastry arts certificate programs usually take less than one year to complete and provide focused, entry-level training. Associate degree programs typically require two years to complete and includes courses in the business and technical aspects of being a pastry chef. A bachelor's degree program offers a well-rounded education that requires four years of full-time study. In addition to hands-on pastry training, coursework includes math, English, biology, physiology and history as well as nutrition, computers and food chemistry. A limited number pastry arts programs lead to a master's degree. These programs spend less time on general pastry technique and focus on the science of pastry. Most graduates students focus on a specialized aspect of culinary arts.
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredits 200 programs in the United States to ensure the quality of instruction, course content and facilities (www.acfchefs.org). The ACF also offers 14 certification levels for pastry professionals, providing independent assessment of a pastry chef's skill level.
Pastry education graduates produce baked goods, decorate and plate pastries and desserts, keep the kitchen organized and order supplies. In addition to a pastry education, creativity, attention to detail, math, reading comprehension and good communication skills are beneficial. Entry-level positions for those with a pastry education include baking and pastry assistant, baker, pastry cook and assistant pastry chef. Pastry program graduates can also find careers as personal chefs or in food writing or styling.
Despite the increased number of bakeries and a growing demand for specialty baked goods, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has forecasted flat overall job growth from 2008-2018, due to the increased use of off-site bakeries with large baking capacities. In 2008, bakers held 151,600 jobs, with an average salary of $25,020, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
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