If creating recipes and preparing sweet treats is what makes you tick, consider a career as a pastry chef. In this rewarding profession, you might find work in restaurants, hotels, private clubs, supermarkets, or as an entrepreneur. So if you envision cakes, cookies, and pastries in your future, find the right pastry chef school to make your dreams a reality.
Finding the Right Program
The perfect pastry chef school for you depends on a variety of factors including location, cost, time to completion, and admission requirements. Be sure to choose pastry schools that are accredited by organizations like the American Culinary Federation (ACF). With a certificate, diploma, or degree and some on-the-job training or work experience, you can refer to yourself as a chef!
Credits and Time to Completion
The length of time it will take you to complete a culinary pastry program depends on which certificate or degree program you choose -- and whether or not you're attending school full or part time. Numerous program options are available, including:
- Earning your culinary pastry certificate requires about 29 credits and generally takes 6 to 13 months to complete.
- A culinary pastry diploma requires about 54 credits and usually takes about 1 year to complete.
- An associate degree in culinary pastry requires about 90 credits and takes about 2 years to complete.
- Obtaining a culinary bachelor's degree requires about 130 credits and takes about 4 years to complete.
Admission requirements for culinary pastry schools vary based on the program you choose. In general, this is what you can expect:
- Certificate and/or diploma programs - High school diploma or equivalent
- Associate degree programs - High school diploma, and possibly food service industry work experience
- Bachelor's degree programs - High school diploma, food service work experience, and possibly a culinary associate degree or certificate
The program you choose (and location of the school) determines how much you'll pay in tuition while attending pastry chef school. You may pay about $35,000 to $40,000 per year for a bachelor's degree, $25,000 annually for an associate degree, and even less for a certificate or diploma.
Pastry Chef School Subjects
While attending pastry chef school, you may learn about (or how to make) things like:
- Basic culinary skills - Find out about proper kitchen equipment use and techniques.
- Frozen desserts - Develop (and prepare) frozen dessert recipes - like ice cream!
- Artisan baking - Learn handcrafted, professional baking techniques.
- Contemporary pastries - Find out how to make new up-and-coming pastries.
- Baking and pastry concepts - Learn the proper techniques for baking and making pastries.
- Baking science - Find out about food science, such as leavening, chemical reactions in food, and binding agents.
- Menu development - Learn how to develop menus for restaurants, catering businesses, bakeries, and other places pastry chefs might find work.
- Cake baking and decorating techniques - Learn how to bake and decorate professional cakes.
- Breads and rolls baking techniques - Find out how professional chefs make rolls and other breads; learn about yeasts and various types of doughs.
- Plated dessert presentation techniques - Get your creative juices flowing and learn how to make desserts really appeal to customers.
- Confectionary and chocolate artistry - Learn how to make chocolate, caramel, candy, fudge, chocolate-covered foods, and creative professional designs out of chocolate and other sugary treats.
- Pastry chef tools - Find out which types of pastry tools you'll need, and experience first-hand how they work.
- Food service management and cost control - Learn how to manage food service operations and keep costs within a specified budget.
Examples of Excellent Pastry Chef Schools
The following culinary pastry schools are top rated:
Johnson & Wales University in Providence
Best-Culinary-Colleges ranks Johnson and Wales University's location in Providence as the best pastry and baking program in the United States, and Culinary Schools.org says Johnson and Wales is one of the most prestigious culinary schools available. Campuses are also found in Miami, Denver, and Charolette - and you have options for associate's or bachelor's degrees in baking and pastry arts.
Upon being accepted into a pastry program at Johnson and Wales, you'll learn techniques for making professional cakes, pastries, artisan breads, chocolates, candies, and many other sweet treats. You'll also learn about presentation techniques, cost control, and food safety - and receive real-life work experiences by participating in an internship.
Le Cordon Bleu
This program is rated one of the best in the world, according to so good.. the magazine of haute patisserie. In the United States, Le Cordon Bleu colleges offer accredited pastry programs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Portland, Dallas, Austin, and Seattle. These schools offer a variety of programs, which include certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees.
Upon being accepted into Le Cordon Bleu's associate's program, you'll learn all you need to know to become a pastry or baker's assistant, cake decorator, baker, or pastry chef. And, the program provides you with real-life work experience through an externship, where you'll work alongside baking and pastry professionals.
The Art Institutes
The Art Institute is ranked one of the best culinary schools by Edinformatics in the U.S. in 2016, and offers pastry certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation in several locations. These include Phoenix, Sacramento, Orange County, Seattle, Virginia Beach, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Charolette, Raleigh, Las Vegas, Minnesota, Michigan, Atlanta, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Las Angeles. The Art Institute's online division even offers a bachelor's degree in culinary management.
The education you'll receive depends on the campus and program you pick. For example, upon entering the bakery and pastry diploma or associate's program at the Washington campus, you'll complete 54 (or 90) credits and get a well-rounded education focusing on pastry arts. You'll learn about plating desserts, managing commercial kitchens, making confections, and gain real-world culinary experience.
If you're tight on time or working full-time while attending culinary school, an online pastry chef school may be right up your alley.
- Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy is an accredited school that allows you to earn a certificate in baking and pastry arts entirely online. While enrolled in this 13-month program, you'll learn about pastry and baking techniques, and have an opportunity to obtain work experience by completing an externship.
- Stratford University is another accredited online pastry chef school that allows you to earn an associate degree in baking and pastry arts. You'll have the option to learn online or at a campus. Upon acceptance into this program, you'll take 20 classes and earn 90 credits, which may take you about 18 months to complete. You'll learn the skills needed to apply for pastry chef jobs, and you'll complete an externship as part of your curriculum to obtain work experience needed to gain confidence and build your resume.
Which School to Pick?
The right pastry school for you depends on your time commitment, budget, location, and job market in your area. Many pastry chef jobs require some type of education (any culinary or pastry chef program) and one-the-job work experience (apprenticeships usually count). Just be sure the program you pick is accredited.