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French Pastry Chef: Job Description & Career Info

Learn what French pastry chefs do and how to become one. Get education and career prospect information, and use it to decide if a job as a French pastry chef is right for you.

Career Definition for a French Pastry Chef

French pastry chefs prepare pastries, breads, cakes, candies, and other desserts. Their duties vary by place of employment but may include filling custom orders, setting dessert menus, and pairing desserts with entrees. French pastry chefs follow health and safety regulations to ensure their products are safe for consumption. They also may oversee other workers, order supplies, and set budgets for their departments. French pastry chefs can find careers with restaurants, catering companies, hotels, and bakeries or as food writers.

Education Certificate or associate's degree
Job Skills Ability to make a variety of baked goods, attention to detail, sense of aesthetics, managerial skills
Median Salary (2018)* $48,460 (all chefs and head cooks)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 10% growth (all chefs and head cooks)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

French pastry chefs typically study at culinary schools that specialize in French pastry training, leading to a certificate or associate's degree. Courses may include bread making, breakfast pastries, cakes and tarts, chocolates, and wedding cakes. French pastry chef programs also may include externships that allow students to get jobs in the field to complete their degrees.

Skills Required

Attention to detail is crucial for French pastry chefs, both in their creation of pastries and administrative duties. French pastry chefs should have the culinary know-how to make a variety of goods, from bread to candy, and a good sense of aesthetics. They also must have the managerial skills to keep their support staff on task.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that all chefs and head cooks will see job growth of 10% from 2016-2026. The competition for work at more expensive establishments should be intense. All chefs and head cooks made a median annual wage of $48,460 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

With an education in French pastries, you may be interested in related professions, including commercial baking and cooking for a restaurant or institution.

Commercial Baker

Commercial bakers operate big mixers and ovens to produce great quantities of baked goods on a large scale and according to set schedules. They measure the necessary ingredients, monitor the preparation and baking process, and check the quality of baked goods like bread, cake, or pastries. On-the-job training is common, although some bakers have completed a postsecondary training program. Bakers may earn voluntary professional certifications. The BLS reports that jobs for bakers in general are predicted to grow 8% from 2016-2026 and that jobs for bakers paid a median salary of $25,690 in 2017.

Cook

A cook is responsible for preparing dishes in a wide variety of establishments, such as restaurants or institutions like schools or hospitals, or for private clients. Cooks use recipes to make appetizers, soups, side dishes, entrees, and desserts; they may use a variety of food preparation techniques, such as boiling, broiling, searing, grilling, roasting, sauteing, or frying. Cooks are also generally responsible for cleaning up their kitchens. Cooks may prepare for their jobs through postsecondary education programs, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training; professional certification options are available.

Jobs for all types of cooks are expected to grow 6% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. Pay can vary by place of employment; the BLS reports that in 2018, restaurant cooks earned a median salary of $26,530, institutional cooks earned $26,860, fast food cooks earned $22,330, and private household cooks earned $37,590.


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