How Can I Become a Professional Baker?
Professional bakers create baked goods and pastries for a living. To learn more about the education programs, additional training and salary information for this career, read on. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Types of Educational Programs Are Available for Professional Bakers?
If you're interested in becoming a professional baker, you can explore several educational avenues. Community colleges and culinary schools offer both certificate and degree programs in baking and pastry arts. A certificate in professional baking can prepare you for entry-level baking or pastry assistant positions. You'll study baking science and theory while learning to prepare breads, pastries, cakes and desserts. You could also explore sanitation's role in the professional kitchen; these programs can be completed within one semester.
For a more advanced education, you may want to look into an associate's degree program in baking and pastry arts. These programs may train you for entry- to mid-level management positions in the restaurant and hospitality industries. The curricula cover the theory and practice of basic baking, and you might learn the more complicated art of French pastries and confections, including souffles, quiches and sorbet. You can also take classes in restaurant and hospitality management issues, such as menu planning, inventory control, budgeting and cost analysis.
What Do I Need in Addition to My Education?
Professional bakers don't require state or federal certification; however, industry-standard certification is available. While not mandatory, it may help you secure a position or attain a promotion. The American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefs.org) offers four different levels of baking and pastry certification, culminating in the Certified Master Pastry Chef certification. Each level of certification includes written and practical exams that test both theoretical understanding and practical-skill proficiency. The initial certification, Certified Pastry Culinarian, requires a minimum of two years experience as an entry-level pastry culinarian.
What Can I Expect To Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed that the median annual salary for chefs and head cooks was $40,090 as of May 2009 (www.bls.gov). The exact salary range for baking and pastry professionals will depend on numerous factors, including size of employer, geographical location and level of experience. Payscale.com reported in February 2011 that the middle half of baking professionals earned an annual salary between $19,464 and $28,566.
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