Certificate programs in the culinary arts are almost always shorter in length than associate's programs. The latter includes additional general education coursework beyond baking and pastry arts for a more comprehensive education. Certificate programs generally take one year to complete.
Prerequisites for two-year associate's degree programs include a high school diploma or GED. Applicants applying to culinary school may be required to have had previous food service experience as well as provide recommendation letters and assessment tests. Additionally, internships may be required for graduation.
Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts
Many baking and pastry arts certificate programs offer classes in confectionary topics. Some certificate programs may take longer than a year to finish. Some schools allow for easy transfer of certificate credits into an associate's degree program in baking and pastry arts.
Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry Arts
A.A.S. in Bakery and Pastry Arts programs instruct students how to make and decorate chocolates, marzipan, pralines, and other confections. Students also learn to make fillings, candy molds, and templates. The classes also teach students to prepare a variety of desserts, breads, and pastries. The curriculum includes such business classes as business writing, hospitality marketing, accounting, and management.
Confectionary Chef Coursework
The coursework in certificate and associate's degree programs is very similar, but there are some differences. The associate's degree program may have some additional baking and pastry classes that certificate programs do not offer. Students in associate's degree programs also take business classes that are useful for starting a business or seeking a management position.
Students learn culinary arts fundamentals, such as purchasing and cost control, sanitation and safety, nutrition and business planning. Classes in a baking and pastry arts associate's degree program include:
- Chocolates and confectionary
- Sugar and chocolate decoration
- Special occasion cakes
- Breads and rolls
- Fancy desserts
- Frozen desserts and ice cream
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Entry-level confectionary chefs advance in their careers as they gain experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% increase in chef and head cook jobs from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the median annual earnings for all types of chefs and head cooks were $41,500, reported the BLS. Earnings fluctuate widely based on the type of employer and the location of the business. Confectionary chefs working in high-end establishments usually earn a larger salary.
Continuing Education Information
Confectioners looking to expand their knowledge of the food service industry can consider a bachelor's degree in hospitality and restaurant management or a related degree. In some cases, students can select an area of concentration in baking and pastry. The coursework in these programs mainly focuses on managing food service businesses, but advanced food preparation techniques are also taught.
Both certificate and associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts provide confectionary chef training. Classes in baking, candy making, decoration and chocolate teach the culinary skills needed to become a candy maker, while associate's degree programs also teach basic business and management skills.