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How Can I Become a Pastry Chef's Apprentice?

Research what it takes to become a pastry chef's apprentice. Learn about what types of degree programs are available, as well as information about job duties, professional certifications and salary ranges, to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Pastry Chef's Apprentice?

Pastry chefs' apprentices help pastry chefs in the kitchen while learning to become pastry chefs themselves. They work closely with pastry chefs to improve their baking and decoration skills, gain experience with menu development and recipe testing, and learn what it takes to hold a leadership position in the kitchen. In addition to hands-on training with the chef, apprentices may also be required to take supplementary courses in relevant topics such as baking, menu planning, sanitation/safety, ingredient and equipment purchasing, food cost accounting, and supervisory management. It is important to note that although apprentices are paid, it is only a percentage of the full amount that chefs make.

The following chart gives an overview of the apprenticeship position.

Degree Required None, but required coursework may lead to a certificate or degree
Education Field of Study Baking and pastry arts, culinary arts
Key Skills Sense of urgency, attention to detail, time management, communication
Certification Certification is optional
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (for all chefs and head cooks)*
Median Salary (2019) $44,335 (for all pastry chefs)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.

What Educational Programs Are Available?

If you are interested in becoming a pastry chef's apprentice, you might consider completing an associate's degree in baking and pastry arts, or a bachelor's degree in culinary arts. Programs are offered through community colleges, vocational schools or culinary arts institutions. While enrolled in a culinary arts or pastry arts program, you learn how to properly use kitchen tools and follow recipes. You also gain a basic understanding of safety and sanitation, menu planning, food purchasing, food storage, food preparation methods, nutrition and portion control.

Many formal training programs require or recommend that you complete an apprenticeship or internship with a pastry chef-mentor. Some culinary schools may find you a position before you graduate. You might also find a formal apprenticeship program through a culinary industry association, such as the American Culinary Federation.

What Will I Do as a Pastry Chef's Apprentice?

Pastry chefs are responsible for creating breads, pastries and other baked goods in restaurants, bakeries, hotels, cafes and other professional kitchens. When you work as a pastry chef's apprentice, your role is to provide assistance to a pastry chef while also learning the skills of the trade. You may prepare ingredients, make sure a kitchen area is clean, and ensure that the pastry chef has all the tools he or she needs to prepare a particular dish. You might also help a pastry chef research new menu items, test new recipes and place deserts on plates.

How Can I Advance in the Field?

Once you have completed a formal training program and apprenticeship, you are eligible to gain work as a pastry chef. You can gain the entry-level Certified Pastry Culinarian designation from the American Culinary Federation. Once you have earned more experience in the field, you can apply for more advanced certification levels, such as Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Executive Pastry Chef and Certified Master Pastry Chef.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer salary data for pastry chefs or pastry chef's apprentices. According to PayScale.com, in July 2018, pastry chefs in the 10th-90th percentile with less than five years of experience earned between $23,000 and $50,000 annually. The median salary was $32,748 during the same time.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking to prepare to become a pastry chef, another option is to gain experience by working as a baker instead of an apprentice. No formal education is required, and you would get hands-on kitchen experience. Alternatively, if you want to take on a kitchen leadership position that does not involve expert pastry production skills, you could become a food service manager, where you would be responsible for the business-related aspects of running a dining establishment. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma or the equivalent.