The smell of fresh dough rising or cookies in the oven might suggest a weekend afternoon for some, but for baking and pastry professionals, it's a living. Professionals in this specialized culinary career use their advanced knowledge of food preparation to find work in restaurants, specialty shops and other settings, including retail locations.
Students customize baking & pastry training options
Potential students choose among three major online degree options for formal education in the baking and pastry arts:
- Certificate: For those who have already graduated from a culinary training program, a baking and pastry certificate adds an additional specialization to a strong resume.
- Online Associate degree: Targeted coursework is a hallmark of the two-year degree. Baking and pastry students are likely to find focused training and hands-on experience. Graduates may go on to earn a bachelor's degree or find entry-level work in the field.
- Online Bachelor's degree: This well-rounded degree adds a liberal arts education to culinary training for four years of full-time study.
In addition to basic coursework, students may be required to complete an externship in a local restaurant, bake shop or catering company, giving them the chance to build the real-world experience of working in the culinary industry.
Typical coursework for baking & pastry degrees
Baking and pastry training programs go beyond the basics to give students a fuller understanding of the art and science behind the perfect dish. Coursework in a typical baking and pastry degree program might include these subjects:
- Confectionery art and special occasion cakes
- Restaurant and production desserts
- Baking and pastry restaurant operations
- Confectionery and chocolate technology
- Cafe operations
Options for online degrees in baking & pastry
Hands-on training is an important part of the experience of formal baking and pastry education. However, hybrid degree programs give students a chance to enjoy the convenience of online training for business and general courses like culinary management and food marketing. The BLS notes that culinary workers with good business abilities tend to have better job prospects, particularly at restaurants where a strict budget is important.
Digital studies also offer a chance to develop computer skills, which are important in a range of occupations. For example, the O*NET website, operated by the Department of Labor (DOL), explains that restaurant cooks--including pastry bakers--may use a variety of technology, including these technical applications:
- Compliance software such as food safety labeling systems
- Database user interface and query software such as menu planning software
- Inventory management software
- Planning logistics and supply chain software such as recipe cost control software
- Point of sale, or POS, restaurant software
Careers for graduates of baking & pastry schools
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes pastry chefs for restaurants and hotels in the data for chefs and head cooks. About 90,510 chefs and head cooks were employed in 2010, with a mean annual wage of $44,780, and the upper 10 percent earned more than $70,000. The BLS expects competition in high-level or higher-paying culinary occupations between 2008 and 2018.
Graduates of baking and pastry training programs may find themselves in specialty bakeries, retail locations, sandwich shops or restaurants. Moving up the food chain can be a challenge in the culinary world, where day-to-day life is stressful and competition is stiff. While certification is not required for pastry professionals, it is one option for improving job prospects.
Baking & pastry at a glance
- Certification: Pastry professionals are certified by the American Culinary Federation based on their training and experience.
- Job outlook: The DOL projects average growth for restaurant cook jobs, including pastry bakers.
- Salary: Mean annual wage in 2010 was $44,780 for pastry chefs in restaurants and hotels.