Adults looking for pastry arts and cake decorating courses can enroll in a one-year diploma or certificate program through the continuing education department of a community college. Through traditional classroom lectures and hands-on projects, students learn basic baking skills such as measuring, ingredient selection, cooking methods, dessert decorating, and product presentation. Some courses may be offered online.
After earning a diploma or certificate, students can continue their education by enrolling in a two-year associate's degree program. Courses these programs start with basic culinary techniques and lead to advanced studies in areas such as shaping sugar or molding pastries. Throughout this program, students learn to read and use a recipe, follow health and safety guidelines, properly measure ingredients, produce a range of baked goods, and manage a bakery. They also develop time management and customer service skills. Upon completion, voluntary certification in this field is available.
Pastry Arts and Cake Decorating Diploma and Certificate Programs
Pastry arts and cake decorating diploma and certificate programs focus on cake baking, decorating, sugar work and chocolate work. Students are trained to prepare baked goods and desserts from scratch, without using pre-made mixes or ingredients. Common course topics include:
- Safety and sanitation
- Basic baking techniques
- Bread making
- Cake decorating
- Pastry making
- Chocolate art
Baking and Pastry Arts Associate's Degree Programs
In associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts, students are trained to prepare artisan breads, layered cakes, sculpted sugar pieces, braided pastries and other baked goods. Practical experience and technical skills are emphasized so that graduates are ready to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. In addition to taking baking-related classes, students must also fulfill general education requirements with courses such as communication, English and mathematics. Core courses include:
- Sanitation procedures
- Kitchen safety
- Advanced baking methods
- Confection and chocolate art
- Plated desserts
- Bread production
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
As of May 2018, employment for bakers was expected to increase by 6% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with a median annual salary of $26,520. Chefs, including pastry chefs earned a median annual wage of $48,460 with jobs growing by 11% over the same period.
Popular Career Options
Graduates of pastry arts and cake decorating programs may work in catering operations, restaurants, hotels and small businesses. Possible career options for graduates include:
- Assistant pastry chef
- Bakery worker
- Cake decorator
Continuing Education Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is common for entry-level bakers and cake decorators to complete an on-the-job training program prior to full employment. This may involve an apprenticeship or work in a trainee position. In these programs, trainees work under the direction of an experienced baker in order to build on and refine the skills they learned in diploma or certificate programs.
Most individuals completing an associate degree program are prepared to enter the workforce with further training. According to the BLS, job candidates may have higher earning potential if they also hold a professional certification from an organization such as the Retail Bakers of America.
Overall, an adult education program in pastry arts or cake decoration provides the basic training students need for future success in the food service industry.