Cake Decorating Classes Offered in Tampa, FL with School Info

There is only one school within 40 miles of Tampa that has cake decorating courses, but two other schools have culinary arts programs that may provide some cake decorating training. Read an overview of these programs, requirements and admission info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Tampa, FL, Cake Decorating Programs

Programs devoted exclusively to cake decorating don't exist at public schools in the Tampa area. Individuals interested in this field can enroll in broader programs that may include cake decorating at schools within a 45-minute drive of downtown. This article looks at three schools and their programs. It also includes a table of information, including tuition rates, school size and graduation rates, that individuals can refer to as they compare options.

  • Manatee Technical Institute (MTI), almost 37 miles from downtown Tampa, is the only school in the Tampa area that offers a baking and pastry arts program.
  • Pinellas Technical Education Center (PTEC) has two campuses in the Tampa area that offer a commercial foods and culinary arts program. The Clearwater campus is 19 miles from downtown, and the St. Petersburg Campus is 26 miles from downtown.
  • Erwin Technical Center is about four miles from the city center and offers a program in commercial cooking and culinary arts.

Manatee Technical Institute

MTI offers a baking and pastry arts program as part of its collection of career preparation programs. MTI also offers a culinary arts program that is accredited by the accrediting commission of the American Culinary Federation foundation and has a professional membership with the National Restaurant Association and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Baking and Pastry Arts Program

This is a 600-hour program that can be completed in one year and three months. The program covers basic and advanced baking techniques and skills. Students learn how to make a variety of baked and dessert goods including breads, pastries, cookies and chocolates. Cake decorating techniques are also covered. The program is offered as two 300-hour programs: the basic Pastry Cook/Baker program and the advanced Pastry Chef/Head Baker program. Classes start at 6 a.m. to simulate a baker's work hours. In addition to learning baking skills in a retail bakery setting, students also learn leadership and management skills.

Pinellas Technical Education Center

PTEC does not have a specific baking or cake decorating program at either of its campuses; however, the commercial foods and culinary arts program does include courses in beginning and advanced baking. The commercial foods and culinary arts program lasts 13.5 months and consists of four 300-hour courses in food preparation, restaurant cook, chef/head cook and food service management.

Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program

The majority of the program focuses on culinary skills other than baking and cake decorating. Within the restaurant cook segment, students are introduced to bakery and baking techniques. In the food service management segment, students learn advanced baking techniques in the classroom and the kitchen as part of the cooking courses.

Erwin Technical Center

ETC's commercial cooking and culinary arts program is a 14-month, 1200-hour program that covers virtually every aspect of commercial cooking and prepares students to supervise a commercial food operation. Besides cooking courses, students learn computer literacy, restaurant management, menu planning, entrepreneurship, housekeeping and technical math.

Commercial Cooking and Culinary Skills Program

The courses in this program cover a wide array of commercial cooking skills and techniques. There are only two courses remotely related to baking and cake decorating: the desserts program in the cook-restaurant portion of the course, and the baking specialties course in the chef/head cook program. The rest of the courses cover other culinary skills and techniques.

Comparison of Schools

Here's a brief look at some important facts about these schools. Prospective students can use this information to make a solid decision about their training.

Manatee Technical Institute Pinellas Technical Education Center Erwin Technical Center
School Type 2-year; public 2-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2011) 1,714* 2,870 for both Clearwater and St. Petersburg campuses* 659*
Campus Setting Large suburb Midsize City Large City
Tuition & Fees 2011-2012 $3,830* $3,753* $2,887*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2011) 55%* 87% at Clearwater,
72% at St. Petersburg*
71%*
Acceptance Rate (2011) N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2011) 77% for full time students; 60% for part-time students* 73% at Clearwater;
90% at St. Petersburg*
89%*
Graduation Rate (2011) 70%* 97% at Clearwater;
67% at St. Petersburg*
85% (1% transfer-out rate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Other Class Options

As an alternative to attending a technical college's culinary arts program, individuals interested in cake decorating may find relevant courses offered by retail outlets, such as the 4-week Wilton cake decorating classes offered by Michael's craft store. Jo-Ann fabric and craft store is another retail location that offers Wilton cake decorating classes. Those interested should check with their local stores to find out when the cake decorating classes are offered.

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