How to Start a Career in Cake Decorating & Pastry Arts

Sep 11, 2019

Careers in cake decorating and pastry arts require little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and optional certification for bakers to see if this is the right career for you.

Postsecondary training options for cake decorating and pastry arts professionals vary from on-the-job training to apprenticeships or degree programs. Certificate and diploma programs are also an option for those entering this career field.

Essential Information

Individuals who enjoy baking and decorating cakes and pastries may find careers as cake decorators rewarding and fun. Cake decorators are specialized bakers. Culinary programs for aspiring cake decorators teach students how to blend colors and create shapes and figures. Aside from attending a culinary or technical school, bakers can be trained through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Some certifications are also available in this field.

Required Education Formal training in baking, which can be gained through a degree program, an apprenticeship or on-the-job training
Certification Optional
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6%* (for bakers)
Median Salary (2018) $26,520* (for bakers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Consider a Cake Decorating and Pastry Arts Career

Cake decorating is a hands-on industry. Possible positions for those interested in cake decorating and pastry arts may include pastry artisan, bakery owner, cake designer and caterer. A culinary degree in cake decorating provides students with the skills needed to open their own bakery or cake decorating shop, with apprenticeships available to help them obtain the knowledge they need to get started.

Step 2: Decide on a Training Program

Individuals interested in learning the art of cake decorating and creating pastry have several academic options, from courses and diploma programs to certificate and degree programs. Diploma and certificate programs often take one year to complete, while associate's degree programs usually require two years of theoretical study and practice. Students develop culinary skills that qualify them for employment at bakeries and specialty shops, as well as working on their own.

Step 3: Take Courses

In addition to cake decorating and pastry arts courses, participants learn about safety, sanitation, nutrition and business. While students take courses, a majority of the program entails hands-on learning where they actually bake and decorate their creations. Additionally, they take part in seminars or internships at approved businesses. Some of the creations they make include sugar and chocolate confections, miniature cakes, specialty desserts, artisan breads, icings and decorative frostings.

Step 4: Earn Certification

Although certification is not a requirement to work in cake decorating and pastry arts, it's a way graduates can demonstrate their education, experience and credentials to potential employers or customers. Various certifications are offered through the Retail Bakers of America and the American Culinary Federation. Examples of certifications include Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Journey Baker, Certified Decorator and Certified Baker.

Step 5: Find Employment

In addition to learning to decorate cakes, graduates of culinary arts programs are qualified for entry-level positions in many food industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2018, the median salary for bakers, including cake decorators, was $26,520 per year, with the bottom ten percent earning less than $19,880 and the top-paid ten percent bringing in over $40,350. Salaries vary somewhat by position and location.

Stable job growth of 6% is anticipated for bakers, including cake decorators and pastry arts professionals, from 2018-2028. Employment venues can vary from commercial bakeries to restaurants and grocery stores. Those in this field can expect to work varied hours, from early in the morning to late at night, on weekends and on holidays.

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