Cake School and University Program Overviews

Individuals interested in cake preparation can consider a program in the baking and pastry arts. These programs and offered by many universities and vocational schools. Check out the curriculum requirements and program outcomes in the article below.

Essential Information

In 2-year associate's and 4-year bachelor's degree programs, students gain the skills needed to work as pastry chefs, creating breads, cakes, and other baked goods. Courses at both levels cover food science, safety, and sanitation regulations as well how to bake. Students can get extensive hands-on experience in baking and decorating cakes.

Both programs include some business courses as well as baking courses. Graduates of both types of programs can earn certifications as pastry professionals.

These programs require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission, and some programs also require students to have previous food preparation experience or culinary coursework under their belt. Some online coursework is also available.

Associate's Degree Programs in Baking and Pastry Arts

Associate's degree programs in the baking and pastry arts prepare students for entry-level careers in the culinary arts field. Students gain knowledge about the industry as a whole and learn technical skills in baking, preparation, and decorating along with food science, safety and sanitation. Courses might include:

  • Retail baking operations
  • Cake design
  • Wedding cake decoration
  • Petit fours
  • European cakes
  • Sugar confections and artistry

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Baking and Pastry Arts

Baking and pastry arts programs at the bachelor's level provide further practice and study in the techniques and science of baking and decorating. Many bachelor's degree programs also cover management topics in the baking industry. Students are prepared to become competent cake decorators and designers as well as leaders and managers within the industry.

Students learn basic skills and progress to advanced techniques in cake and pastry design, preparation, and decoration. Courses might include:

  • Baking ingredients
  • Classic cakes
  • Contemporary cakes
  • Advanced cake decorating
  • Accounting and budget management
  • Hospitality management

Popular Career Options

Students with an associate's degree are prepared to work in a variety of settings including restaurants, resorts, hotels, catering businesses, pastry shops, independent bakeries and grocery store bakeries. Common job titles include:

  • Cake decorator
  • Bakery assistant
  • Pastry chef
  • Cake designer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (, skilled bakers should be in high demand due to the increased demand for specialty products, although the overall employment of bakers is expected to increase only 7% from 2014 through 2024. Bakers earned a median annual wage of $24,170, as of May 2015. Employment of all chefs, including pastry chefs, is also expected to increase at 9% during the decade from 2014-2024, and competition will be intense for jobs at upscale restaurants and outlets. Chefs earned a median annual salary of $41,500 in 2015 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education

Baking and pastry arts professionals interested in running their own cake decorating businesses might benefit from additional education in business management. Continuing education is also important to keep up with industry trends in design and decorating.

Some students may choose to enter into apprenticeship programs to further their training. Certification for baking and pastry professionals is offered by the American Culinary Federation. Entry-level professionals may become Certified Pastry Culinarians. With continued education, pastry professional may apply for advanced levels of certification.

Aspiring bakers can find programs in pastry arts at the associate's and bachelor's level through universities or vocational schools. Apprenticeship and certification programs also available to students interested in developing their baking and cake decorating skills.

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