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Pastry Chef Graduate Program Information

Certificate, associate and bachelor's degrees are available for students interested in becoming pastry chefs, although pastry chef graduate degree programs are not generally professionally required and are not widely available.

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Essential Information

Individuals interested in becoming pastry chefs can enroll in certificate, associate or bachelor's degree programs at culinary schools, community colleges or universities. There, they may learn baking fundamentals, cake decorating procedures and dessert preparation techniques. In addition to becoming professional pastry chefs, other career options might include bakery ownership or cake designing. Pastry chef graduate degree programs are not widely available nor needed for professional development.

Prerequisites for a certificate or undergraduate degree in baking and pastry arts include a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, many schools require applicants to have formal hands-on food preparation experience to pave the way for more advanced food-handling and cooking techniques.


Certificate of Achievement in Pastry Arts

Pastry arts certificate programs provide the basic training required for entry-level roles in the baking and pastry industries. Students learn through extensive hands-on, kitchen-based training. Additionally, they receive theoretical training in the practical and artistic aspects of baking. Graduates are qualified to work as entry-level pastry chefs in pastry shops, grocery store bakeries, restaurants and catering businesses.

Courses in pastry arts certificate programs cover many types of baked goods and essential kitchen skills through the following topics:

  • Baking fundamentals
  • Desserts and pastries
  • Cake decorating
  • Breads and rolls
  • Basic nutrition
  • Sanitation and safety

Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Associate degree programs in baking and pastry arts are offered at community or technical colleges as well as culinary schools. These undergraduate programs cover kitchen skills and other topics with which pastry chefs are required to be proficient, such as nutrition, menu creation, cost management and food safety. Students are trained to make desserts, pastries, confections and specialty breads.

Courses discuss:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Pies and tarts
  • Chocolates and confections
  • Pastries
  • Cake decorating
  • Food cost control

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Bachelor's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

At the bachelor's degree program level, pastry arts students acquire comprehensive training with baking skills, food preparation techniques and in using the kitchen equipment required for a career as a pastry chef. Students spend extensive time in a kitchen setting mastering menu items such as breads, cakes and confections. Business competency lessons prepare students for careers as pastry shop managers or owners. Though infrequently offered, bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts are most commonly available at hospitality or culinary schools.

Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts include courses in food creation and design, as well as those devoted to business aspects of the industry. Common courses address:

  • Food science
  • Plate and buffet presentation
  • Wedding cake design
  • Sugar artistry
  • Decorative breads
  • Chocolates and confections

Popular Career Options

With extensive baking and pastry skills, graduates are qualified for many food service roles, including leadership positions such as:

  • Pastry chef
  • Personal chef
  • Wedding cake designer
  • Banquet manager
  • Bakery owner

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Bakers held approximately 185,300 jobs in May 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). They earned a median salary of $24,170 in that year. According to the BLS, pastry chefs fall into the same category as head chefs and cooks. These professionals are expected to see a job growth of 9% between 2014 and 2024. Head chefs and cooks earned a median annual salary of $41,500 for the year as reported in May 2015.

Pastry chef programs are available through community colleges, universities and culinary schools and provide students with the knowledge needed to enter the professional baking industry. Although there are numerous undergraduate programs for aspiring pastry chefs, pastry chef graduate degree programs are not widely available.

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