Baking and Pastry Education FAQs
What do I need to learn to become a Pastry Chef?
Any professional baker or pastry chef will tell you that baking is part science, part art. In order to succeed as a pastry chef you will need to develop an organized and detail-oriented mind, as well as a resilient work ethic to thrive under pressure in a competitive field. In addition to learning the fundamentals of baking you should approach pastries with a thirst for creative expression – after all, every prominent pastry chef or baker has their own signature creation.
By becoming a student in the Baking and Pastry program at Kendall College you can quickly immerse yourself in the creative science of baking. Blending classroom instruction and hands-on kitchen experience, the courses in our program prepare students for the realities of life in a bakery and on the job market. Our commercial-grade facilities provide students with ample counter space and the finest ingredients to hone their creative design capabilities into a variety of sweets and pastries.
Delve into the world of cake decorating and learn from top industry professionals. Craft winning desserts by fine-tuning your ability to create chocolates and confections that are delectable and daring. Learn the ins and outs of human nutrition to enhance your baking by infusing recipes with the latest flours and sweeteners. All of this and more will be instilled into your baking repertoire when you earn an associate degree in baking from Kendall. To check out other courses explore our course catalog.
How much do Pastry Chefs make?
According to payscale.com, the average annual salary for a Pastry Chef is $35,923 as of 2016. The same website claims that an Executive Pastry Chef earns a median salary of $51,124. However, salary.com shows that Executive Pastry Chefs earn an average of $61,740 in the United States as of 2016. Clearly, as with any job in the food industry, the salary you can expect to earn will vary significantly based on your degree, level of experience and location.
For Pastry Chefs in an executive position, inventory management skills and business acumen factor into higher salaries. Your salary as a pastry chef or baker will largely depend on where you work – in a kitchen of a small bakery, for a large corporation, for an exclusive resort or any number of work environments. Executive positions involve managing other pastry chefs and pay significantly more. If you have an associate degree in baking and pastry you can complete your bachelor’s degree in as little as two years at Kendall College to help you gain a competitive edge in the workplace.
As mentioned before, the city you work in will also determine your rate of pay. Pastry Chefs in metropolitan areas are often paid more than in smaller cities and towns. Getting a full picture of what your salary will look like takes time. Luckily, we have a team of professionals at Kendall who can provide you with current statistics, valuable information and helpful coaching while you try to land your first job after graduation. Visit our Career Services office to get the answers you need.
How long does it take to earn a degree in baking and pastry?
The amount of time it will take to earn a degree depends on what kind of degree you wish to earn. Many students pursue certificate programs to become pastry chefs, which typically take one year to complete. A popular option is to earn an associate degree, which will take approximately two years to finish depending on what program you choose. Some students pursue a bachelor’s degree and concentrate on baking and pastry discipline classes, meaning they’ll spend four years in classes.
At Kendall College, we offer an Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry. This degree arms you with specialized knowledge in baking and confections as you undertake rigorous training in the kitchen and develop core leadership and collaboration skills necessary to make the most of your career. We train you not only to be the best in your craft, but also to own and operate a bakery or sweets shop of your own.
The course sequence comprises five quarters of a full course load culminating with a quarter of Internship Practicum. Thus, you can earn a degree in as little as two years.*
Do I need a degree to become a Pastry Chef?
No you do not! Becoming a Pastry Chef is not contingent upon earning a degree. Because a Pastry Chef is more specialized than a standard Chef, certification or training is required to land a job solely baking and preparing pastries. One way to do this is to earn a degree or a certificate in baking and pastry. By earning a degree you can secure higher-paying positions and skip over the formative years as a prep cook or pastry assistant.
When applying for a Pastry Chef position you’ll need to demonstrate your competency in your field. Without a formal education you can become a Certified Working Pastry Chef. As chron.com details, you will have to work as an entry-level assistant or Pastry Cook for five years and then complete 150 hours of continuing education courses. To then earn your certificate through this method you would be required to pass a practical and written exam.
Earning a degree in baking and pastry from Kendall College will help open up career possibilities right after graduation. Your holistic training in pastries will help prepare you to enter the workforce as an artisan baker, cake decorator, pastry chef, chocolatier and more. As a Pastry Chef earning a degree, it allows you to specialize and to edge out other applicants for jobs. The skillset you can develop at Kendall College will empower you to climb the ladder and take control of your own pastry business.
The Career Services Department at Kendall can help you secure a job upon graduation with counseling, career fairs and on-campus job interviews. 96% of graduates who sought employment within their fields of study reported employment within 6 months of graduation.(self-reported—June 2016 graduating cohort) Our employment statistics make one thing clear – an education from Kendall gives students a distinct advantage in the job market. Employers in the foodservice industry are ready to hire Kendall College graduates: becoming a Pastry Chef is an attainable goal when you have a degree.
What does a Pastry Chef do?
A Pastry Chef or Baker creates pastries, desserts, bread and other baked goods for consumption. Pastry Chefs and Bakers often specialize in dessert items like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies or tortes. The day-to-day activities of a Pastry Chef vary based on their place of employment – Pastry Chefs that own their own bakery or delicatessen have creative input in their products, while Bakers and Pastry Chefs in large hotels or restaurants may follow a pre-determined recipe.
In addition to creating, serving and packaging baked goods, Pastry Chefs are also in charge of tasks like ordering ingredients, planning menus, acquiring supplies from vendors, training fellow pastry chefs, keeping inventory and maintaining working relationships with wholesalers. Executive Pastry Chefs and Bakers with a higher position in their company will oversee more logistical aspects of the business than entry-level Pastry Chefs.
Graduates of Kendall’s Baking and Pastry program have gone on to work in hotel kitchens, restaurants, patisseries, bakeries and major corporations. You can specialize and become a cake decorator or a chocolatier if you prefer sweets. With the business background you’ll acquire in our two-year program, you can learn the skills to expertly run your own bakery and cultivate a brand. Many Pastry Chefs work in research and development, developing brand new concepts for food items and recipes for retailers, suppliers and national brands.
Are there different levels of Pastry Chefs?
In terms of the workplace, an Executive Pastry Chef is traditionally in charge of the kitchen and will oversee any other Pastry Chefs that work in that restaurant or location. An Executive Pastry Chef usually makes more money per year, and has many more responsibilities beyond the creation of baked goods and desserts. These positions are typically filled as a result of professional experience, and aren’t often acquired directly upon completion of your baking and pastry education.
Beyond this, any Pastry Chef or Baker can (and should) apply to be certified through the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) during the course of their professional career. A certification in baking proves that you have the knowledge, experience and acumen to exceed expectations as a Baker or Pastry Chef. Earning your certification greatly bolsters your resume, and can lead to advancement to a better position and a higher salary. Many restaurants, resorts and bakeries require certification in order to be considered for a position.
There are four types of certifications you can earn through RBA: Certified Journey Baker (CJB), Certified Baker (CB), Certified Decorator (CD) and Certified Master Baker (CMB). Each certification comes with its own requirements. To learn more, visit the Retail Bakers of America website. Once you apply and are deemed qualified you must pass a written exam and a practical exam in order to receive your certification.
We have two faculty members that are Certified Master Bakers. It is an important milestone in the storied career of a professional Baker or Pastry Chef.
*Time to degree completion may vary depending on the student’s course load and progress.