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Cake Decorating Schools in the U.S.

Cake decorating instruction is offered in a variety of ways, such as: certificate programs devoted exclusively to the art; courses required of associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts; and through accredited, paid apprenticeships.

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Community colleges and technical schools offer both certificate programs and associate's degree programs related to cake decorating. These vary in length; many are completed in just a few weeks, while others can take up to a year.

Schools with Cake Decorating Courses

College/University Institution Type Location Degree Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Houston Community College 2-year, Public Houston, TX Certificate $3,360 in state, $3,756 out of state
Central Piedmont Community College 2-year, Public Charlotte, NC Associates $2,664 in state, $8,808 out of state
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College 2-year, Public Asheville, NC Associates $2,419 in state, $8,563 out of state
Wake Tech Community College 2-year, Public Raleigh, NC Associates $2,768 in state, $8,912 out of state
Bunker Hill Community College 2-year, Public Boston, MA Associates $3,576 in state, $8,520 out of state
Edmonds Community College 2-year, Public Lynwood, WA Associates $3,758 in state, $9,096 out of state
Central New Mexico Community College 2-year, Public Albuquerque, New Mexico Associates $1,448 in state, $6,704 out of state
Hudson County Community College 2-year, Public Jersey City, NJ Associates $8,743 in state, $12,403 out of state
Moraine Valley Community College 2-year, Public Palos Hills, IL Associates $8,916 in state, $10,326 out of state
Sandhills Community College 2-year, Public Pinehurst, NC Associates $2,401 in state, $8,545 out of state

*Source: NCES

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Selecting a Cake Decorating School

The certificate programs focus solely on cake decorating techniques. There are no associate's degree programs in cake decorating per se; however, related degree programs such as baking and pastry arts offer courses in cake decorating. An associate's degree takes about two years to complete but equips students with broader culinary knowledge.

An accredited apprenticeship is another option altogether. Apprenticeships that include training in baking and pastry arts require up to three years to complete.

Below are a few considerations to help you decide on the best training program:

  • Look for programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF); the ACF accredits certificate programs, degree programs and apprenticeships.
  • Review possible ACF scholarships for students pursuing an education in the culinary arts.
  • Graduates of an ACF-accredited pastry arts program are eligible to receive a Certified Pastry Culinarian designation as soon as one year of entry-level work is completed.
  • Utilize career counseling services; schools with a strong track record for job placements offer students an edge in finding employment.

Certificate in Cake Decorating, Baking and Pastry

Cake decorating centric-certificate programs are easy to find. These short-term programs are generally not ACF-accredited, but they offer basic and advanced training. Students learn about tiered cake design; icing types and decorations; rolled fondant; and marzipan, among other things. ACF-accredited certificate programs usually take one year to complete and require a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission.

Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Associate's degrees in baking and pastry arts are fairly common. And, at least one accredited program can be found in nearly every state. Students will need a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission. The programs entail general education courses as well as basic and advanced culinary classes. An internship is also required.

Apprenticeship in Baking and Pastry Arts

Apprenticeships are run by local ACF chapters. Students must be at least 17 years old and hold a high school diploma or the equivalent before working as an apprentice. There are fees for registration and for maintaining one's student ACF membership, but otherwise, apprentices are paid a full-time hourly wage. Apprenticeships in baking and pastry arts require between two and three years of full-time, hands-on training under the supervision of an ACF-certified chef. Students also complete at least 445 hours of class time.

Students interested in cake decorating may receive certification or even an associate's degree. Several areas of specialty and practice are available for those pursuing this field.

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