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 degree programs in baking and pastry arts; and through accredited, paid apprenticeships.

How to Select a Cake Decorating School

Community colleges and technical schools offer both certificate programs and associate degree programs related to cake decorating. The certificate programs focus solely on cake decorating techniques. These vary in length; many are completed in just a few weeks, while others can take up to a year. There are no associate degree programs in cake decorating per se; however, related degree programs such as baking and pastry arts offer courses in cake decorating. An associate 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.

Keep in mind a few considerations when deciding which training program is best for you:

• Students should look for programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF); the ACF accredits certificate programs, degree programs and apprenticeships.

• The ACF also offers 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.

• And, finally, never underestimate the value of career counseling services; schools with a strong track record for job placements offer students an edge in finding employment.

Cake Decorating Program Overviews

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. Typical courses include:

  • Food safety
  • Baking techniques
  • Baked goods presentation
  • Dessert decoration

Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Associate 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. Advanced courses in the pastry track may include:

  • Plated dessert design
  • Chocolate artistry
  • Wedding cakes
  • Finishing techniques
  • Commercial decorating equipment

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. Courses in these programs might include:

  • Nutrition
  • Menu planning
  • Advanced baking and pastries

Schools with Cake Decorating Courses

College/UniversityInstitution Type
Houston Community College2-year, Public
Central Piedmont Community College2-year, Public
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College2-year, Public
Wake Tech Community College2-year, Public
Bunker Hill Community College2-year, Public
Edmonds Community College2-year, Public
Central New Mexico Community College2-year, Public
Hudson County Community College2-year, Public
Moraine Valley Community College2-year, Public
Sandhills Community College2-year, Public

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