Although baking skills are often learned on the job, a number of schools offer associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts to facilitate entry into the trade.
Program content within an associate's degree in baking and pastry arts program examines the physical properties of ingredients, baking time and the effects of high and low heat. Food science theory, hospitality management and hospitality law are also considered. Typically, an associate's degree program can be completed in two years. Experienced candidates may obtain a professional certification through organizations such as Retail Bakers of America.
A high school diploma or GED is sufficient for entry into an associate's degree program. No particular coursework is needed for baking, but high school level courses in English and mathematics help with a degree program's general education requirements.
Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts
Liberal arts courses in the social or behavioral sciences, natural sciences, the arts or humanities are often part of an associate's degree program. Courses specific to baking cover such topics as baking and pastry fundamentals and cake and pie design. Other courses include:
- Food safety
- Chocolate, sugar and confections
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Bakers and pastry chefs typically put in long hours of work for modest rates of pay. In addition, bakers belong to an occupational category that is not expected to see above average growth in the years ahead. However, baking can provide a satisfying, stable career for people who enjoy cooking and want to work with their hands.
Entry-level positions as an assistant pastry chef, baking assistant or area pastry chef are open to people who earn an associate's degree in baking and pastry arts. Independent bakeries, hotels, restaurants and wholesale and retail markets are possible employers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an as fast as average 7% increase in employment of bakers from 2014-2024. This was due in part to automated kitchen processes, which lower the necessity of bakers (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the annual average salary for bakers was $26,270 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Bakers and pastry chefs who earn an associate's degree can obtain a Certified Journey Baker (CBJ) certification from the Retail Bakers of America. Certification requires at least one year of education and 1,000 hours of work experience.
Skills in baking and pastry arts can be learned through an associate's degree program that aims to prepare students for entry-level baking jobs and certification.