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Baking and Pastry Overview
Baking and pastry chefs are responsible for the production of breads and pastries for the purposes of consumption. Individuals in this field will master the use of an oven to produce various baked goods as well as to decorate and create pastries. Many individuals will work through a bakery, though pastry shops are also an option, as are restaurants that create custom pastries as part of their menu.
What Can You Do with a Baking & Pastry Degree?
After earning a college degree in baking and pastry, there are a number of career tracks you can pursue. In fact, the options within the food industry are often limited by your imagination and effort. A sampling of careers you can enter after earning a pastry and baking degree from an accredited college include:
- Food Research & Development
- Pastry Chef
- Executive Pastry Chef
- Wine & Beverage Specialist
- Event Planner
- Bakery Manager
- Food Writer
- Bakery Owner
- Bakery Merchandiser
- Food Stylist
- Media Personality
Top Baking and Pastry Degrees
There are a number of baking and pastry degrees for students to choose from including certificates and degree programs. We have assembled an overview of each type of baking and pastry degrees below to help you best understand your options leading up to a career in the food industry. A summary of the degrees include:
Certificate in Baking and Pastry
The certificate programs in baking and pastry include undergraduate-level certificates and graduate certificates. The undergraduate certificates or diploma programs are designed to provide students with the basics. These foundational classes in pastry and baking are essential elements to the success of any professional in the field.
On the other hand, graduate certificates are specialized classes to help qualified professionals make a career move within the same organization or extend knowledge and job responsibility outside their current company. Certificate programs can be a few weeks to a year-long program focused solely on core curricula in the baking and pastry field.
Baking and Pastry Associate's Degree
The associate degree in baking and pastry is a 2-year program that includes an array of general education courses such as creative writing, philosophy, and English along with core classes. The core curricula seen in associate degree programs may include: baking and pastry techniques, baking ingredients, equipment technology, food safety, nutrition, gastronomy, principles of design, pastry production, hearth breads, confectionary technology, advanced baking, specialty breads, café operations, desserts, customer service, and an externship.
Baking and Pastry Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor’s degree in baking and pastry is a 4-year program designed to extend learning wider and deeper than the associate degree or certificate programs. The bachelor’s degree program will typically envelope a similar set of undergraduate classes as the associate’s degree plus additional courses in business management, marketing, advertising, food theory, food science, sustainability, presentation, food pairing, business etiquette, community relations, leadership, critical thinking, and culinary expertise.
Baking and Pastry Online Degrees
As the fastest growing degree segment in higher education, online learning has proliferated for a number of reasons. Benefits of learning online include flexibility, cost savings, convenience, access, pacing, accreditation, and quality degree programs. Online degree programs may not be for everyone, but with the number of programs available and benefits inherent to learning online it may be a viable option to consider.
Pastry & Baking Academic Requirements
An education in the field is not strictly required but can be beneficial for the purposes of employment as it demonstrates a previously established set of skills necessary for work. Individuals may pursue an associate or bachelor's degree, with bachelor degrees providing greater depth in the production process. Individuals will participate in a variety of classes directly or indirectly related to the creation of baked goods.
A curriculum in baking and pastry may include:
- Wedding cakes and pastries
- Sanitation and safety
- Sugar and chocolate preparation
Employment Information for Pastry Chefs & Bakers
Individuals seeking employment as bakers and pastry chefs may find employment with large bakeries, small pastry shops, local bakeries, restaurants, hotels, or any other business that needs the production of baked goods. Employers will look for qualified, clean and professional individuals who are capable of creating cakes, pastries or breads as needed by the particular employer. Experienced individuals may seek entrepreneurship, particularly if they have a strong skills in a given specialization of the field, such as chocolate, wedding cakes, pastries and the like.
Bakery & Pastry Salary and Career Growth
Culinary fields in general have seen growth over the last few years and are expected to continue to grow over the next decade. As baking and pastry chefs are in a sub-field of culinary arts, growth is expected, though not quite as highly as other fields. Part of this is due to increased concerns over national health standards and a movement toward eating healthier.
The average salary for a baker is approximately $27,000 per year, and $39,000 for pastry chefs. Specialized pastry chefs and entrepreneurs will have varying salaries based on a variety of factors, such as experience, success and demand. Individuals interested in baking and pastry may also wish to consider a career in culinary arts, culinary science or food preparation and professional cooking.