Cake Decorator Career Info
Cake decorators design, construct, and embellish baked goods. Along with expertise in decorating techniques, this career depends highly on creativity and manual dexterity. Cake decorators often work in retail bakeries to create cakes and pastries for all occasions, such as weddings or birthdays. In addition to icing, frosting, or piping these baked goods, common job duties include providing customer service, tracking supply inventory, and maintaining clean work areas. This occupation may become stressful when important deadlines loom.
|Degree Level||No degree required, though a certificate or associate degree could expand career opportunities|
|Degree Field||Cake decorating, culinary arts, baking and pastry arts|
|Certification||Voluntary certification is available from the Retail Bakers of America|
|Experience||Varies by employer; requirements range from six months to five years|
|Key Skills||Manual dexterity, creativity, a sense of taste and smell, customer service skills, and strong attention to detail|
|Salary (2015)||$24,170 per year (Median salary for bakers in general, including cake decorators)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014
Complete a Formal Training Program
Some professional cake decorators prepare for this occupation by completing certificate programs in cake decorating or baking. Associate degree programs in pastry or culinary arts are also available and could be coupled with an apprenticeship component, where students gain up to 6,000 hours of work experience under the supervision of skilled chefs and bakers.
Pastry and baking courses in these programs can cover such decorating techniques as airbrushing, piping, and the use of gumpaste and fondant. Many also incorporate topics in baking and sanitation. Culinary schools, technical institutes, community colleges, and even professional organizations like the American Culinary Federation commonly offer training programs in baking, decorating, and sanitation techniques.
While enrolled in their formal training programs, aspiring cake decorators can improve and refine their skills by decorating cakes at home. Volunteering to decorate cakes for family and social gatherings can be one way to practice methods and techniques outside of school.
Get Work Experience
A search of July 2012 job posts revealed that entry-level cake decorator positions were often with retail grocery store chains. In many cases, these employers stated that relevant education would satisfy experience requirements. After getting their foot in the door and working for two or more years with these companies, cake decorators could move on to positions with luxury hotels, bakeries, and cake shops. These jobs might also come with some baking responsibilities.
Cake decorators can demonstrate their skills and advance in the field by obtaining voluntary professional certification. The Retail Bakers of America offers a Certified Decorator designation to applicants with at least four years of experience preparing icing, decorating cakes and serving customers in commercial bakeries. Along with passing a one-day practical examination, certification candidates must have completed an approved food sanitation course.
No degree is required to become a cake decorator. However, those interested in the field might benefit from completing some postsecondary courses or training in pastry arts and baking before going on to gain experience in the field.