Pastry Chef Certificate, Diploma and Certification Program Overviews

Aspiring pastry chefs may choose between pastry chef certificate programs and diploma programs. Diploma programs take longer to complete and require students to complete general education courses in addition to their culinary-specific training.

Essential Information

A pastry chef certificate or diploma combines the craft of pastry-making with the art of baking. Both the certificate and diploma programs are strongly hands-on, requiring significant practice in kitchen classrooms in order to learn the art of successfully producing breads, pastries, and desserts.

A high school diploma or GED may be required, and strong oral and written communication skills could be beneficial. While students interested in pursuing a certificate or diploma may graduate in as little as a year, some diploma programs may take longer to complete.

Pastry Chef Certificate Program

Pastry chef certificate programs thoroughly expose students to the craft of pastry and baking arts and emphasize theoretical knowledge that will help students succeed. Pastry chef certificate programs feature only courses relevant to the pastry and baking arts. These courses may include the following:

  • Dessert and bread production
  • Basic food sanitation
  • Cake decoration
  • Baking theory
  • Artisan breads

Pastry Chef Diploma Programs

The Pastry Chef diploma also teaches students both the fundamentals of baking and the theories relevant to successfully producing bread, pastries, and desserts. Unlike the certificate programs, however, diploma programs require students to complete a number of general education courses in addition to core pastry and baking classes. These courses may include English, math, science or humanities. Diploma program coursework also delves deeper into the subject matter than certificate program coursework and may include the following classes:

  • Cooking with chocolate
  • Plated dessert fundamentals
  • Bakery production
  • Yeast dough fundamentals
  • Bread and pastry marketing

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates of either the certificate or diploma programs will be eligible for entry-level employment in restaurants, hotels, pastry shops and bakeries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for bakers was $26,270 as of May 2015. For comparison purposes, the mean salary for chefs and head cooks was $45,920 over the same time period. The BLS projected a 7% job growth for bakers from 2014-2024, on average for all occupations.

Continuing Education Information

Those with entry-level positions in the baking and pastry arts may apply to Retail Bakers of America, a nonprofit trade association for industry professionals, in order to take the Certified Journey Baker (CJB) written exam. Before taking this exam, students must have completed accredited certificate or diploma programs in the baking and pastry arts and worked 1,000 hours in the industry. This exam is the first step of the certification process that culminates in the Certified Master Baker (CMB) qualification.

Both pastry chef certificate programs and diploma programs provide a wealth of hands-on kitchen training to prospective pastry chefs. Diploma programs take longer to complete and include general education requirements in addition to pastry and baking courses, while certificate program classes focus solely on the baking arts.

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