Pastry chefs and bakers usually work for modest rates of pay while putting in long hours of work. This career is not expected to see notable growth in the upcoming years. Those that enjoy working with their hands and cooking may want to find a career in baking. Baking skills are usually adopted on the job, but schools that offer Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree programs prepare students with the needed skills to enter the field.
A.A. Programs in Baking and Pastry Arts
Students enrolled in an Associate’s degree programs in baking and pastry arts can expect to develop their practical skills in the use of ingredients such as oil, yeast, sugar and flour, among others, in creating assorted desserts and breads.
Coursework focuses on the examination of the effects of low and high heat, baking time, and the physical properties of ingredients. The curriculum also considers hospitality law, hospitality management and food science theory. It usually takes two years to complete an associate’s degree program.
Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma; while baking skills require no particular coursework to be completed, students are expected to complete general education requirements in the form of high school courses in math and English.
Liberal arts courses in the humanities or arts, natural sciences, and social or behavioral sciences are often expected to be completed by students enrolled in an associate’s degree program. Courses related specifically to baking include topic areas such as:
•Cakes and cake design
•Chocolate, sugar and confections
Job and Wage Outlook
Completion of an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts will help graduates seek entry-level positions such as area pastry chef, baking assistant or assistant pastry chef, with employers such as wholesale and retail markets, restaurants, hotels and independent bakeries. No additional job growth rate is predicted for bakers during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The expected rise in the number of stores selling projects fresh baked goods is expected to be offset by the increased demand for contract bakers working in high capacity kitchen settings.
In May 2012, bakers in the United States earned an average annual wage between $19,611 and $28,731, while, during the same time-period, pastry chefs took home $24,530 to $74,120.
Continuing Education Info
Pastry chefs and bakers who graduate with an associate’s degree can aspire for a Certified Journey Baker (CJB) certification awarded by the Retail Bakers of America. They can qualify for the certification by completing at least a year of education augmented with work experience of 1,000 hours.