A pastry artist or chef uses imagination, innovation, and a thorough knowledge of how pastry ingredients work with one another to create a wide variety of baked treats, including cakes, pies, and cookies. A pastry artist must develop a solid baking style in addition to perfecting his or her individual pastry-making skills. Many hours are spent standing, and looming deadlines or extremely challenging pastry creations may cause job-related stress.
|Degree Level||Many jobs require no formal education; however, some employers may prefer or require applicants to hold degrees|
|Degree Field||Culinary or pastry programs|
|Certification||Some positions may require voluntary certifications|
|Experience||Experience may be necessary|
|Key Skills||Physical stamina and strength to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy items; math skills for following and manipulating recipe measurements|
|Job Outlook||7% increase (for bakers)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$24,170 (for all bakers)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com job postings (September 2012), O*Net OnLine
Step 1: Obtain Formal Training
Earning a diploma, certificate, or degree is not a requirement to become a pastry artist, but many chefs do complete some type of formal training to learn proper techniques and perfect pastry-making skills. Additionally, some employers may seek pastry artists who hold associate's or bachelor's degrees in culinary or pastry arts.
Students studying pastry arts in postsecondary programs learn about food science and baking chemistry in a classroom environment. They are also required to put their knowledge to use in pastry labs and kitchens. Additionally, students focus on mathematics and how they apply to the modification of recipes and ingredient amounts.
Complete an internship. Many culinary and pastry programs offer internships to qualified students. An internship is a great way to gain real-life experience in a kitchen or restaurant environment. Students can enhance their training by being exposed to the techniques used by experienced professionals in the field.
Step 2: Gain Experience
An apprentice program is an alternative to a college or vocational program and provides a student with classroom learning in addition to hands-on training. If a person has already earned a certificate, diploma, or degree in pastry arts, he or she may work as a trainee under a master pastry artist. Hands-on experience and training are crucial in this career because the creation of pastries and baked goods requires mastery of baking techniques that are best learned through practice. Important skills to learn as an apprentice or trainee include the use of baking equipment and kitchen tools, baking and decorating techniques, recipe development, and kitchen safety.
Step 3: Get Certified
Certification is not required to be a pastry artist, but it provides proof of skills and knowledge in the pastry arts. Pastry artists may be certified through professional organizations, such as the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) or the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The RBA offers several certifications for recent pastry arts program graduates, those with no formal training, those specializing in baking, and those who have gained on-the-job experience only.
The certifications offered include Certified Journey Baker, Certified Baker, Certified Decorator, and Certified Master Baker. The ACF offers certifications specifically for pastry artists, such as the Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, and Certified Master Pastry Chef. To earn certification from these organizations, a person may have to pass tests, provide proof of education or work experience, and demonstrate his or her skills.
If you're still interested in becoming a pastry artist, your formal training options include apprentice, certificate, and degree programs which can help you qualify for a professional certification. In May 2015, bakers earned a median annual salary of $24,170.