Although formal education is normally not a requirement for entering the cake decorating industry, 2-year colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs in the baking arts. These programs usually include cake decorating coursework and hands-on training in bakery settings, which may be at the school or at another location. Such programs prepare students for positions as cake decorators and designers, assistant pastry chefs, candy makers and bakers. Continuing education classes are also available for beginning cake decorators as well as those seeking education in a specific aspect of decorating, such as fondant cake decorating.
Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, serves a student body of over 11,000 undergraduates. The 2-year Associate of Applied Technology (AAT) in Baking and Baking Management, which is part of the culinary arts division, features a professional baking lab that gives students hands-on experience and prepares them for professional positions in baking and cake decorating.
The program begins with baking theory to give students a solid grasp on the properties of foods and ingredients and how they relate to each other. Students then complete baking labs to master cake production and decoration, along with sweet rolls, doughnuts, breads, cookies, pastries and pies. Cake decorating classes are also included separately at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. Students have the opportunity to work in approved bakeries for school credit and gain work experience, as well as complete independent study projects.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Lake Washington Technical College (LWTC) is located Kirkland, Washington, which is a suburb of Seattle. In addition to its Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Baking Arts, LWTC also offers cake decorating courses as part of the non-credit continuing education program.
The associate's program includes training in a working bakery, which is open to the public. Proficiency is gained in cake designing and decorating, breads, pastries and chocolate, as well as basic cake mixing and decorating styles and techniques. Students take courses in artisan chocolate and confections, specialty cakes and centerpiece constructions. Graduates are eligible to be certified by the American Culinary Federation as certified pastry culinarians.
The school's continuing education course offerings include beginning cake decorating, fondant cake decorating, gum paste figure modeling and pulled sugar artistry. Students in the beginner's class are introduced to standard techniques in piping, borers, flowers and icing. The fondant cake decorating class teaches students how to create different shapes, such as human figures, ribbons and fish, using a variety of unusual techniques.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School||School Type & Setting||Program Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Clark College||4-year, public; midsize city||AAT in Baking and Bakery Management||$3,456 (in-state), $8,794 (out-of-state)*|
|Lake Washington Institute of Technology||4-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||AAS in Baking Arts||$3,880 (in-state), $9,218 (out-of-state)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator