How to Become a Cake Decorator in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a cake decorator. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
Cake decorators study the art of decoration and of crafting wedding cakes and other specialty cakes. The following chart gives you an overview about career requirements for cake decorators.
|Degree Required||Post-secondary certificate or associate's degree|
|Training Required||On-the-job training may be considered in lieu of formal education; apprenticeships may be available|
|Education Field of Study||Baking and pastry arts, cake decorating|
|Certification||Professional certification is available|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||6% for bakers*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$23,160 for bakers excluding pastry chefs*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Do as a Cake Decorator?
Cake decorators are often seen as artists. As a cake decorator you'll learn to bake cakes and decorate them. Using butter cream, gum paste, fondant and fresh flowers you'll decorate cakes for weddings, birthdays and other special occasions. Using fondant, you'll learn how to mold decorative flowers, animals and other ornaments for cake toppers. You'll also learn how to use various instruments to pipe icing, create designs and repair ornate or elaborate cakes in the event of an accident.
Step 1: Gain Experience as a Cake Decorator
If school isn't an immediate option, you may begin practicing at home for friends and relatives. Resources you can consider include television shows, DVD tutorials, books and magazines that offer tips for beginners. Wilton, the industry standard, also provides cookbooks and how-to books for amateur cake decorators. You can also seek out books for additional ideas and inspiration.
Step 2: Work in a Local Bakery
Many supermarket bakeries hire people with little or no experience. If you're interested in becoming a cake decorator and want to gain professional experience, this is an option that allows you to see what a career in baking and decorating will involve. You may also be able to begin decorating with a local baker who needs additional help meeting the demanding decorations. This option could also include on-the-job training.
Step 3: Enter a Certificate Program
At some point, you'll likely want to take a cake decoration class. Many colleges offer certificate programs in cake decorating. These programs are for you if you have little or no experience decorating cakes. You'll need to purchase your own equipment and ingredients, but these programs tend to focus on smoothing butter cream, using fondant, molding fondant, making and using royal frosting, adding borders and designing edible flowers. Importantly, you'll gain hands-on experience under the guidance of a professional cake decorator.
Step 4: Continue Your Education
Having a formal education in cake decorating increases your chance of securing employment. Many vocational and community colleges offer associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts. These programs cover cake decorating, but they mainly focus on general baking techniques. This type of program is especially beneficial if you intend to begin your own company or if you want to bake more than cakes.
Step 5: Earn Certification
The American Culinary Federation offers four certifications for baking professionals: Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Executive Pastry Chef and Certified Master Pastry Chef (www.acfchefs.org). If you're interested in a certification more specifically for cake decorators, the Retail Bakers of America offers a Certified Decorator credential (www.retailbakersofamerica.org). This certification allows you to work with customers, trains you to understand safety and sanitation, and tests you on your icing and decorating skills.
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