Becoming a Pastry Chef
Pastry chefs can work in a variety of settings, from hotels or cruise ships to restaurants and self-owned catering companies or bakeries. To increase job options, prospective pastry chefs should take courses that count toward a degree or certificate in the field; online courses are available to facilitate this process. This growing career requires not just creativity but the ability to work with the public and manage a business, as noted in the table below.
|Required Skills||Creativity, management acumen, communication skills|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||11% (chefs and head cooks)|
|Median Salary (2019)**||$13.89 per hour, or $44,335 per year (pastry chefs)|
Sources: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
Steps to Becoming a Pastry Chef Online
Although becoming a pastry chef can be achieved in an actual classroom, it is also possible to gain a diploma or certificate in baking and pastry arts primarily online. This option might work well for those who are unable to commute to a school or who want to pursue the degree on a more flexible schedule. Most work can be completed with a computer, except for the externship required at the end of the program, which requires placement within the food service industry.
Step 1: Obtain the Skills Needed
The ability to bake and mastery of kitchen skills are important components of becoming a pastry chef. Beyond that, creativity in terms of decorating and presenting the final product is also essential. Math skills are critical not only in the kitchen but also within the setting of a business. Finally, being able to communicate effectively is valuable when dealing with clients as well as staff.
Step 2: Complete Online Courses Related to Food Preparation
When choosing an online school, one must ensure that the institution is accredited. Initial coursework includes reading background information on cooking and baking, as well as familiarizing oneself with computer features, like videocams and the uploading of demonstration tutorials. Also, students can read online texts that introduce them to the foundations of math needed for baking, such as measurements. In terms of personal interaction, professors schedule mandatory online classes during which they prompt online discussions among students and present cooking techniques. As part of the curriculum, students submit written assignments online as well as videos or photographs of their baking creations.
Step 3: Complete Online Career-Related Courses
While baking and decorating pastries are an integral part of a chef's education, other classes focus on practical aspects of the culinary industry. To ensure that one's kitchen is suitable for cooking, knowledge of safe food practices and proper hygiene is imperative. Courses in finance prepare prospective pastry chefs for budgeting, marketing, and preparing payroll for potential employees. In addition, students can become familiar with specialized baking approaches, such as for vegan, gluten-free, or allergen-sensitive consumers.
Step 4: Complete an Externship and Acquire Certification
The final phase of becoming a pastry chef is the only part that cannot be accomplished online. After the curriculum has been mastered and baking proficiency determined, students are placed in an externship program to use their skills in real-world work settings. In the externship, one can also follow the day-to-day workings of a chef or food business owner and make business connections. After the externship, students can receive a diploma, certificate, or associate degree, depending on the program completed. Those who wish to pursue an online bachelor's degree must complete more specialized coursework. Students can also work toward various advanced certifications that are recognized by the American Culinary Federation; while these certifications are not necessary for a successful career as a pastry chef, they can increase an individual's marketability.