How to Select a Cake Decorating School
Community colleges and technical schools offer both certificate programs and associate's 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'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.
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'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. 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:
- Menu planning
- Advanced baking and pastries
Schools with Cake Decorating Courses
|Houston Community College||2-year, Public|
|Central Piedmont Community College||2-year, Public|
|Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College||2-year, Public|
|Wake Tech Community College||2-year, Public|
|Bunker Hill Community College||2-year, Public|
|Edmonds Community College||2-year, Public|
|Central New Mexico Community College||2-year, Public|
|Hudson County Community College||2-year, Public|
|Moraine Valley Community College||2-year, Public|
|Sandhills Community College||2-year, Public|