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What Is a Cake Chef?

Explore the career requirements for cake chefs. Get the facts about job duties, training, certification, and salary potential to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is a Cake Chef?

A cake chef is a type of baker whose specialty lies in making cakes. Cake chefs work in a variety of establishments including restaurants, hotels, and bakeries, and might make cakes for any number of occasions such as weddings or birthdays. They ensure that they are using high quality ingredients, and maintain clean and safe working environments. Cake chefs may create new and original recipes and practice various cake decorating techniques. Depending on their place of work these professionals may oversee other bakers, manage budgets, promote their business and more. See the table below for information about training, salary, and job outlook.

Education Preferred Associate of Applied Science often preferred
Education Field of Study Baking and Pastry Arts
Certification Required Optional certification by the American Culinary Federation (ACF)
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (for all chefs and head cooks)*
Median Salary (2018) $48,460 (for all chefs and head cooks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties and Skills of Cake Chefs?

Cake chefs, also known as pastry chefs, make birthday cakes, wedding cakes or specialty cakes for all occasions. Some pastry chefs also make cookies and specialty breads. Common food items you might work with include flour, sugar, butter, eggs, chocolate, food coloring and fondant. Because baking requires exact measurement of food items and leavening agents, you should have a good understanding of basic math.

How Are Professionals Trained?

Even though no formal education is typically required, many pastry chefs are trained in certificate and associate's degree programs at community colleges and culinary schools. An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Baking and Pastry Arts is a 2-year program that consists of general education courses and practical training in a restaurant-style kitchen. A certificate program includes much of the same training as an associate's degree program and may be a good option if you want to start working in less than two years. Some topics in these programs include:

  • Royal icing
  • Custards
  • Ganache
  • Pastillage
  • Wedding cakes

An associate's program also prepares you for the business end of the food service industry; you might take courses that examine employee training and supervision, kitchen management and food safety laws. You may need to complete an internship in a professional kitchen in order to earn your certificate or degree.

What Professional Certification Do Cake Chefs Need?

Although not a requirement, industry certification is a good way to prove to employers that you are competent in your field and committed to continuing education. You could pursue certification thorough the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which is a leading organization in the certification of chefs, bakers and culinary educators (www.acfchefs.org). At the entry level, completion of a certificate program and one year of experience qualifies you to take the written and practical exams for the Certified Pastry Culinarian designation.

With further experience, you could earn the Certified Working Pastry Chef or Certified Executive Pastry Chef designations. The Certified Master Pastry Chef credential is designed for professionals with extensive experience who pass an eight-day exam and hold Executive Pastry Chef or Certified Culinary Educator certification.

How Much Could I Earn?

PayScale.com reports that the entry level salary range for pastry chefs was $30,000-$63,000 as of November 2019 with an average salary of $44,335 per year. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $48,460 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Food service managers are related positions that require a high school diploma or equivalent. These professionals oversee the daily activities and operations of various kinds of eating establishments. They may supervise staff and ensure customer satisfaction. Cooks are also similar jobs that do not require formal education, but many cooks choose to attend culinary school. Cooks prepare an array of foods at restaurants, hotels and more.