Pastry Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pastry chef. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training programs, job duties and job growth projections to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Pastry chefs prepare desserts, breads and other pastry products, usually for bakeries or restaurants. There are several ways to train to become a pastry expert, but many aspiring bakers enroll in pastry arts programs offered by culinary schools at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels. In these programs, they learn the skills needed to work in the industry, often gaining hands-on experience at student-run facilities. Graduates can pursue professional certification, which is not required but can help with career advancement.

Required EducationCertificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in pastry arts
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 6% for bakers
Mean Salary (2013)* $25,120 for bakers

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.

Degree Options

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.

Career Information

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) forecasted just 6% job growth from 2012-2022, due to the increased use of off-site bakeries with large baking capacities. In 2013, bakers held about 165,000 jobs, with a mean salary of $25,120, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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