Should I Become a Chocolatier?
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Bakery and pastry arts|
|Training||Internships; specialized training programs available|
|Experience||Previous culinary experience, often as a pastry chef|
|Key Skills||Critical thinking, reading comprehension, communication, and technical skills; a steady hand; originality and creativity|
|Salary||$29,210 (2015 average for all food batchmakers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; O*Net Online
Chocolatiers make candies and craft elaborate displays of chocolates. Some of the types of confections they make include chocolate covered fruits and nuts, truffles and chocolate bouquets. Individuals working in this field must have the artistic and technical expertise to blend different types of chocolate with other ingredients and mold the confections into intricate designs. Those who go on to run their own chocolate companies must also have business savvy. Also referred to as food batchmakers, these professionals often spend extended periods of time on their feet and sometimes deal with stressful working conditions.
Chocolatiers generally pursue this competitive career because of love of the craft, as earnings are typically meager. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food batchmakers in general earned an average salary of $29,210 as of May 2015. Now, let's take a look at the steps chocolatiers take along this career path.
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Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree
The first step toward becoming a chocolatier is gaining postsecondary training. An associate's degree program in bakery and pastry arts teaches students to prepare pastries, confections, desserts and breads. The curriculum generally includes coursework in baking techniques, culinary mathematics, food safety, nutrition, ingredients and baking equipment. It provides instruction on techniques used by professional pastry chefs, such as blending, creaming and cutting ingredients. They'll also learn about units of measurement, conversions and scaling, and determining costs for recipes.
Here's a tip for success. During your graduate studies, complete an internship. Many college programs in baking and pastry arts assist students in obtaining internships. These opportunities give prospective chocolatiers real-world experience working for and learning from experienced chocolatiers.
Step 2: Complete Specialized Training
The next step for a career as a chocolatier is specialized training. Aspiring chocolatiers might train at a chocolate school, which is a for-profit institution dedicated to teaching chocolate confectionery. Chocolate school programs are limited within the U.S. and generally do not qualify for financial aid. Enrollment in such programs may require completion of a postsecondary culinary program. Students typically learn to temper, mold and store chocolate, as well as how to craft artisan bonbons, chocolate bars and other confections.
Step 3: Seek Entry-Level Employment
With the right training, you may now seek employment as an entry-level chocolatier. Prospective chocolatiers often find employment assisting experienced chocolatiers. This allows them to further hone their skills in preparation for advancing to a head chocolatier position or opening their own chocolatier business.
To gain employment as an entry-level chocolatier, you generally need to complete postsecondary training in bakery and pastry arts. Completion of specialized training at a chocolate school may be beneficial.