Love to express your creativity through swirls of icing and roses carved from fondant? You can build a career creating beautiful cakes by completing a training program at a cooking school or college, undertaking an apprenticeship, or learning on the job. Once you've accrued some experience and training, you can earn a professional certification to further boost your reputation.
Cake decorators add artistic flourishes to baked goods using sugars, icings, and other edible adornments. Individuals can learn on-the-job, although training is commonly available through apprenticeship programs or baking and pastry arts programs at community colleges and culinary schools.
|Required Education||None required; an apprenticeship or baking and pastry arts program could prove beneficial|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||7% (for bakers)|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)**||$29,497 (for cake decorators)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
PayScale.com reported the total annual earnings for most cake decorators, including overtime and bonuses, ranged from $17,853 - $33,042 as of January 2016. The median annual salary for these workers was $29,497.
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported there were approximately 185,300 bakers employed in the U.S. as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The top industries of employment were bakeries, grocery stores, specialty stores and special food services.
Cake decorators are a small segment of the food service industry. In a 2008 survey, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) reported that 3% of employed culinary professionals were pastry chefs (www.acfchefs.org).
There are no formal education requirements for cake decorators. Individuals can receive training on-the-job, or they might opt to complete a formal apprenticeship program or a baking and pastry arts program at a culinary school.
A formal apprenticeship that combines on-the-job training with classroom education can be arranged through a professional organization, such as the ACF. Many culinary schools offer 2-year associate's degree programs, with cake decoration a part of a broad curriculum that includes baking principles, dough, icing, pastry, and food safety. Some schools also offer shorter diploma programs as well as certificate programs for specific techniques.
Voluntary certifications can validate a professional's training and work experience and provide a competitive advantage when seeking employment. The ACF offers credentials for bakers at four levels of expertise, while the Retail Bakers of America offers credentials for both general baking and cake decorating. Typically, professionals must meet minimum requirements for education and work experience before they're eligible to test for these certifications.
While you can start out as a cake decorator by learning in a work environment, you may find it helpful to attend a formal training or degree program at a community college or culinary school before looking for jobs. Apprenticeships are also available through several culinary organizations. Median salaries for cake decorators were around $29,500 in 2015.