Baking and Pastry Schools
Many schools offer certificates and Associate's degrees in baking and pastry arts. A baking and pastry arts program is designed to give you a comprehensive education in all types of desserts, from simple cakes to classical French desserts. This program is not as popular as culinary arts or chef training, simply because it is more specialized than those programs. You can graduate with a certificate in one year or an Associate's degree in two years.
What You Learn
This field gets its own specialized degree because baking is considered completely separate from cooking; while there is a wide margin of error in cooking, baking is considered to be an exact science. As a baking and pastry arts student, you'll learn about different baking ingredients and when and how each one is used. For example, you may learn the differences between all-purpose flour, bread flour, and cake flour in Beginning Pastry. You may also learn the science of different ingredients and how they interact when mixed together.
Baking and creating desserts isn't all you learn in this field—you also learn how to make desserts look beautiful. Classes that teach you how to decorate using different ingredients can help you prepare for a career as a cake decorator or bakery owner.
A baking and pastry arts degree or certificate gives you the necessary skills for several different career paths. If you want to be self-employed, you can open your own bakery. In addition to creating desserts for walk-in customers, you may take orders for birthday, wedding, and other party cakes. This may require travel if you serve customers outside your immediate area. However, you can also work for a restaurant as a pastry chef. This typically involves creating dessert menus with your executive chef to suit upcoming dinner menus, in addition to actually preparing desserts for dinner service.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a baker earns an average salary of $23,140 per year. However, this field really values experience and seniority. As you become more experienced in the field and become comfortable working in a fast-paced environment, your earning potential may increase.