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Wedding Cake Decorator: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Working as a wedding cake decorator requires little to no formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Wedding cake decorators must have culinary skills in baking, and baking experience is generally required for these positions. There are no formal education requirements; however, educational opportunities are available at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Voluntary certification is also available.

Essential Information

Wedding cake decorators use their creative flair to make cakes for clients' wedding days. Having baking skills and a background in the culinary arts benefits aspiring wedding cake decorators. Some decorators have earned a certificate or degree in the field, while others have completed specific courses and master classes in cake decorating. Wedding cake decorators work closely with clients to gather ideas, so they need to be able to visualize the finished product.

Required Education None mandatory; certificate and associate's degree programs in the culinary or pastry arts are available, as are courses specific to cake decorating
Other Requirements Voluntary certifications available through the American Culinary Federation
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% increase for all bakers*
Median Salary (2016) $29,497 for all cake decorators**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Salary

Since wedding cake decorators work either independently or for a bakery, their average income varies. Their salaries also depend on their reputation and how many clients they have. The salary range for most cake decorators, as listed by PayScale.com in January 2016, was $19,112 to $40,699. The median annual pay was $29,497.

Cake decorators specializing in wedding cakes might earn more due to different factors, such as cake size and design. The more elaborate a cake is, the more a wedding cake decorator can charge.

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Duties

A wedding cake decorator designs, bakes and garnishes wedding cakes for customers. After discussing ideas with clients, wedding cake decorators ensure that the images get brought to life. They must have excellent baking skills and manage their time well. Taking notes and communicating with the couple helps cake decorators translate their vision, and their creativity should lend itself to tying the cake into a client's wedding theme. Wedding cake decorators need to have reliable transportation to get their finished product to the wedding site.

Requirements

A background in the culinary arts, specifically in the pastry arts, can benefit wedding cake decorators. Formal education options include taking pastry chef courses at culinary school or earning an associate's degree in pastry arts. Aspiring wedding cake decorators can gain hands-on experience by working in a bakery. They can also obtain baking and pastry certifications, such as certified executive pastry chef or certified master pastry chef, from the American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefrs.org). Wedding cake decorators who wish to own a bakery might want to consider taking business classes.

Wedding cake decorators must have a strong grasp of culinary terms and know their way around the kitchen. They must know how to combine different ingredients to make cake batter as well as different frostings, garnishes and other toppings. They also must work well under pressure and be able to modify their designs to fit client expectations. Individuals specializing in wedding cake decorating can expect to work weekends and evenings.

Aspiring wedding cake decorators can complete individual cake decorating courses or certificate or associate's degree programs in pastry arts, though there are no formal education requirements. Certification is available, but not always required. The job growth outlook for these positions is about average and the annual median salary is around $29,000.

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