Learn to Bake Professionally: Career Education Program Overviews

Those interested in learning to bake professionally can pursue a number of educational and/or training options. Some instructional programs include topics such as cakes and pastries, cake decorating, and breads and rolls.

Essential Information

Your current skill level, and educational and career goals will help determine the level of baking and pastry training to take. For example, certificate and diploma programs require minimum culinary skills and offer foundational knowledge of the field, along with practical experience. A high school diploma is required for certificates, associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and most diploma programs. Some programs may require experience in foodservice as well.

In associate and bachelor's degree programs, students combine coursework and internships to gain in-depth knowledge of pastry arts. Field experience may also be required to complete the degree.


Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts

Certificate programs in baking and pastry arts provide foundational training to students interested in learning to bake. Programs include training in baking techniques, sanitation, and the food service business. Many programs include field experience where students gain hands-on training in a professional baking environment.

Students in baking and pastry arts certificate programs learn the techniques for creating a variety of baked goods. Common courses include:

  • Pastries and cakes
  • Cookies and tarts
  • Cake decorating
  • Wedding cakes
  • Chocolate and confectionaries
  • Baking safety and sanitation

Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts

Diploma programs in baking and pastry arts prepare students for entry-level employment working under experienced bakers and pastry chefs. Baking and pastry arts diploma programs are primarily offered at 2-year technical and community colleges. Most diploma programs can be completed in one year or less.

Baking and pastry arts diploma programs train students in the foundational skills required for a career as a baker. Students learn to bake cakes, pastries, pies, and other desserts. Additionally, students learn basic food handling and safety practices. Common courses include:

  • Basic pastries
  • Scratch baking
  • Cake decorating
  • Wedding cakes
  • Fundamentals of chocolate
  • Food safety and sanitation principles

Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Students in baking and pastry arts associate's degree programs receive a combination of theoretical and hands-on training in baked goods from artisan breads to sugar confections. Graduates are prepared for work in bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels.

Associate's degree programs are typically offered at 2-year community colleges or culinary arts schools and take two years to complete. Students learn to bake in an array of different styles. Common courses include:

  • Pastries and cakes
  • Cookies and tarts
  • Cake decorating
  • Wedding cakes
  • Chocolate and confectionaries
  • Baking safety and sanitation

Bachelor's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts help aspiring bakers develop their skills in creating a multitude of baked goods. Students are also trained in food safety, nutrition, and menu planning. Many programs offer courses in business subjects useful to students looking to open their own baking and pastry business. Some programs also require internship experiences during which students gain practical experience that prepares them for employment upon graduation.

Bachelor's degree programs are typically offered at culinary schools, or 4-year colleges and universities with significant culinary programs. Many programs stipulate that applicants possess experience in food service. Programs may also accept transfer students who completed their first two years as part of an associate's degree at a community college.

Common courses in a bachelor's degree program may include:

  • Pastries and cakes
  • Breads and rolls
  • Restaurant management
  • Fundamentals of nutrition
  • Menu planning
  • Baking safety and sanitation

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts prepare graduates for careers as bakers, as well as for management and entrepreneurial roles in the baking and pastry arts field. Possible careers include:

  • Bakery owner
  • Artisan bread baker
  • Pastry chef
  • Catering manager

Career Outlook and Salary Info

Bakers held 185,300 jobs in 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Employment between 2014 and 2024 was anticipated to increase the average of 7%.

As of May 2015, bakers earned a median annual salary of $24,170. The highest earners worked in bakeries and tortilla manufacturing, while the lowest earners worked in full-service restaurants.

Continuing Education Information

Bakers are not required to earn a certification; however, the Retail Bakers of America offers certification at four levels to verify a baker's skills. The certifications offered include Certified Decorator (CD), Certified Journey Baker (CJB), Certified Baker (CB), and Certified Master Baker (CMB). Earning certification requires a combination of experience and education that varies by level.

Additionally, the American Culinary Foundation (ACF) offers a variety of certifications in baking and pastry arts. These include Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC), Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC), Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC), and Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC).

Those looking to pursue a career in baking can learn by taking a formal educational program. Students can learn skills such as baking safety and sanitation, receive instruction on pastries and cakes, and take other baking-related classes via diploma, certificate, and degree programs.


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