Baking Schools and Certifications

Baking schools may offer programs at the diploma, certificate or associate's degree level. Formal education and experience can prepare you to earn certification through the American Culinary Federation. Continue reading for more details about certification and programs of study. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Baking schools are widespread, and their programs can often prepare students for voluntary professional certification. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers multiple levels of certification to professional bakers, including the certified pastry culinarian, certified working pastry chef, certified executive pastry chef and certified master pastry chef credentials. Each has its own prerequisites, and its own set of written and practical examinations. The different levels require varying amounts of work experience or formal education training, and sometimes both.

Schools Culinary schools and community colleges
Certifications American Culinary Federation pastry culinarian, working pastry chef, executive pastry chef, and master pastry chef levels
Courses Bread baking, classical pastry making, general education such as math and English

How Do I Earn the Certifications?

Becoming a certified pastry culinarian requires either two years of work experience in a bakery, one year of experience plus a certificate program, or no work experience plus an associate degree. Certification requires applicants to complete both a written and practical exam.

Each of the more advanced designations requires additional preparation. For example, certification as an executive pastry chef requires a minimum of 5 years of experience, including the management of employees. At least 150 hours of post-high school education are also required. In addition, you must have completed nutrition, food safety and sanitation courses. You may check the American Culinary Federation's website ( for updated information on each certification.

Where Can I Study?

Depending on the certification level you're interested in, a certificate, diploma or associate degree program may be for you. Each of these is offered around the country by a variety of culinary schools and community colleges. Diploma or certificate programs typically take between nine months and two years to complete. Associate degree programs are almost always two years in length, and sometimes include an externship, where you build experience working in a professional bakery or kitchen.

How Do I Choose a School?

Several agencies offer accreditation to culinary schools and programs. You should look for a school that has been accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Board of Education. Some accrediting bodies for culinary training institutes include the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission and the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges. The following schools may offer baking certification programs:

  • Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, OH)
  • Virginia College (Multiple locations)
  • Harrisburg Area Community College (Harrisburg, PA)
  • Culinary Institute of Virginia (Multiple locations)
  • The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)

What Will I Learn?

Associate degree programs might include a number of general education requirements, which may be taken online. While the skills needed to master baking are largely technical in nature, requiring you to learn through hands-on work and observation of instructors, general education courses such as math and English are more flexible. If you wish to take your general education courses online, community colleges will generally offer the widest array of course options. Here are some topics you may be covering:

  • Bread baking
  • Cake centerpieces
  • Classical pastry techniques
  • French pastries
  • Culinary traditions around the globe

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Penn Foster High School

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