Pastry Chef Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for pastry chefs. Get the facts about preparing for a career as a pastry chef, degree programs, professional certifications, job duties and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Pastry Chef?

Pastry chefs are responsible for making cookies, souffles, breads and candies. They may be responsible for planning dessert menus and creating new and original recipes as well. Pastry chefs ensure the quality of their ingredients, as well as maintain their essential kitchen equipment. These professionals often oversee other cooks or food preparation workers, and make sure that all safety and cleanliness guidelines are followed. Depending on their place of employment, pastry chefs may be involved in marketing the business, managing the budget and hiring staff. The following chart gives an overview of this career.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's
Education Field of Study Baking and pastry arts, culinary arts, culinary management
Key Skills Preparing recipes, decorating, presentation
Certification Optional, but can help your career
Job Growth (2014-24) 9% for all chefs and head cooks*
Median Salary (May 2015) $41,500 for all chefs and head cooks*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does a Pastry Chef Do?

Typical job duties may include preparing complicated recipes or decorating desserts. Many pastry chefs work for hotels, restaurants or wholesale bakeries. Some pastry chefs operate their own bakeries, restaurants and catering companies.

What Education Should I Get?

You could enroll in an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry Arts. These are 2-year programs that consist of general education courses and hands-on training in baking and pastry preparation. Much of your training would take place in a professional kitchen; you'd work closely with instructors who are certified chefs. Some associate's programs require completion of an internship in a restaurant or bakery. You might explore topics like:

  • Introduction to baking
  • Confections
  • Decorating pastries
  • Food presentation techniques
  • Breads

You could also enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts or Culinary Management program; bachelor's degrees in baking and pastry arts are rare. While many bachelor's programs in culinary arts or management include courses in food preparation, a significant part of the curriculum may be devoted to business-related topics like cost control, hospitality management or restaurant marketing. You may need to complete an internship in order to earn your bachelor's degree.

How Do I Get Certified?

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the industry standard for culinary certification. If you've earned a high school diploma and have two years of experience as a pastry chef, you could apply for ACF's Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC) designation; candidates who have an associate's degree in culinary arts can apply for the CPC designation without prior work experience. If you have an associate's degree and three years of work experience, you could pursue the Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC) designation. You'll have to take a written test as well as a practical exam to earn ACF certification; the practical exam tests your hands-on skills in a kitchen.

How Much Can I Earn?

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $41,500. In 2017, Salary.com reported that the median annual salary for assistant pastry chefs was $40,799; executive pastry chefs earned a median annual salary of $62,325 during the same year. The amount of money you can earn as a pastry chef may depend on your education, location and experience level.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers in the food industry include those of bakers, food preparation workers and food service managers. Although these careers require no formal education or only a high school diploma, some aspiring food service professionals may earn an associate's or bachelor's degree. Bakers create or follow recipes to make a variety of baked goods, such as breads and pastries. Food preparation workers follow the directions of a chef or head cook as they prepare different kinds of food for consumption. Food service managers help coordinate and manage a kitchen in all kinds of eating establishments, and they ensure customer satisfaction as well.

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:

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