What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Cake Decorator?

Cake decorators are often able find work in restaurants, bakeries and gourmet markets. Read on in order to learn about the pros and cons of pursuing a career in baking and becoming a professional cake decorator. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pros and Cons of Being a Cake Decorator

If you have an artistic eye and fine coordination, cake decorating can be a highly creative, challenging craft. In a gourmet market or specialty bakery, a cake decorator might work directly with clients, drawing sketches to help them visualize a custom cake. On the other hand, bakery work can be routine, involving the application of base icing and a few rosettes to cakes and writing personal messages.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of bakers was expected to grow only 7% during the 10-year period ending in 2024, which was about as fast as average (www.bls.gov). Additionally, food service workers in restaurant and bakery kitchens face a variety of occupational hazards, including slips, falls, lacerations and burns. Also, the work environment can be stressful, with long hours and possible holiday work.

Important Facts About Bakers

Median Salary (2014) $23,600
Entry-level Education No formal education requirements
On-the-Job Training Most bakers gain skills through on-the-job training lasting 1-3 years
Similar Occupations Chefs, cooks, food preparation workers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training and Certification

It's possible to get a job in the food service industry without postsecondary education; however, a 2-year associate's degree in pastry arts could prepare you for a job in a top restaurant or specialty bakery. Associate's degree programs include training on modern decorating techniques, presentation options and equipment usage. As you learn your art, the canvas might consist of Styrofoam molds; once you master techniques, you can put the final touches on cakes.

Certification in pastry arts is offered by the American Culinary Federation and requires work experience or an associate's degree. To earn certification, you're required to complete both written and practical exams.

Job Duties

As a cake decorator, you might create tiered wedding cakes, specialty cupcakes or custom birthday cakes, as well as pastries or molded candies. You'll work with sugar in various forms, including pulled and piped, whipped into mounds of soft buttercream frosting or slipped over cake as a firm, fondant glaze. A cake decorator's tools typically include piping tips, icing bags, wire cutters, needle-nosed pliers, brushes, spatulas and an occasional piece of tape.

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