Information on Baking and Pastry Arts Schools

The baking and pastry industry comprises a significant portion of the culinary world. A $30 billion dollar industry, baking and pastry arts are concentrated in two areas: commercial and retail baking. Baked goods and pastries are major business segments with the global market reaching approximately $170 billion in 2014, according to research from Marketline and Global Industry Analysts. With growing demand for specialized options and healthy alternatives, graduates of baking and pastry schools are well-positioned to pursue a range of professional opportunities both in the kitchen and corporate life.

Culinary Arts

Baking and pastry schools and education

There are multiple avenues to gaining the education and training necessary to become a baker or pastry chef:

  1. Apprenticeships and on-the job training
  2. Formal training from a culinary, technical school, or community college

Below is an overview of the different types of educational options available to prospective bakers and pastry chefs.

Apprenticeships integrate on-the-job training and classroom instruction to offer future bakers and pastry chefs with professional level skills to pursue employment opportunities in the culinary industry. As an apprentice, students work under the supervision of an experienced chef. Apprentices typically rotate through various stations, gaining experience in all facets of baking and pastry arts. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is one of the country's largest provider of pastry and baking apprenticeships. Through partnerships with local technical and community colleges, culinary associations, and other organizations, ACF offers three types of apprenticeship options:

Two-year programs are typically hands-on programs that include 4,000 hours of experience across 150 different areas of practice. Students also complete 445 additional hours of apprenticeship in ten concentration areas. These competencies are outside of hands-on experience and include classroom- and online-based instruction in subjects such as nutrition, basic baking, food cost accounting, and beverage management.

Three-year programs are usually 6,000 hour programs that cover 150 different areas and include 445 apprenticeships hours in ten concentration areas.

Culinary skills fundamentals programs are usually six-month instructional programs that include 1,000 hours of hands-on training and 30 hours of food handler's preparation. The program provides students with the basic culinary skills necessary to pursue entry-level employment opportunities.

Culinary schools tend to focus solely on training programs in the culinary arts, such as baking, pastry arts, food studies, culinary science, and foodservice management. The academic award varies by the specific culinary school. For example, The Culinary Institute of America offers both an Associate in Occupational Studies in Baking and Pastry Arts and a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Baking and Pastry Arts Management.

Certificates in baking and pastry arts are generally entry-level instructional programs designed to prepare graduates for a career in the pastry industry. Focusing more on hands-on instruction in the kitchen, certificate programs introduce students to the foundations of culinary arts, cover basic and advanced baking principles, and include an externship where students put their knowledge into practice. Depending on the program, certificates in baking and pastry arts can be finished in as little as nine months.

Associate degrees in occupational studies can typically be completed in 24 months, and introduce students to a broad curriculum in baking and pastry techniques, basic and classical cakes, advanced baking principles, menu development, contemporary cakes and desserts, and more. Classroom-based instruction is complemented by hands-on externships, which in some instances require 700 or more hours to complete.

Bachelor's degrees in baking and pastry arts are limited. However, these programs build upon the skills taught in two-year associate degree programs. Curriculum includes both general education and industry-specific coursework. Through an additional two years of study, students can develop management and leadership skill and explore related subjects through degree concentrations.

Community colleges or technical schools are usually found at the local level, and students may choose to enroll in either certificate or associate degree programs in baking and the pastry arts. These programs teach students not only industry-specific techniques but the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of each field as well. Although curriculum varies by program, students may take courses in subject such as cake and pastry decoration, artisan breads, retail bakery management, hospitality marketing, food sanitation and preparation, and catering management.

Baking school certifications and licenses

In the culinary world, earning a certification is one way to enhance professional skills and develop greater marketability in the workplace. For bakers and pastry arts chefs, certification programs are available both in the US and abroad. In the culinary industry, certifications are traditionally sponsored by culinary academies, associations, and institutes. For example, the Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland offers a Swiss Pastry Chef specialization, a 22-week intensive program that includes instruction in Swiss and European desserts and pastries, modern and traditional recipes, and advanced pastry preparation and presentation.

The American Culinary Federation is the country's largest professional organization for chefs and has more than 17,500 members across the country. It sponsors four certifications for baking and pastry professionals.

  • Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC): CPC certification is open to individuals with varying levels of professional experience: no degree (2 years); culinary arts certificate (1 year); and associate degree (no required work experience). Candidates must successfully pass a written examination and complete an application process to qualify for the designation.
  • Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC): The CEPC designation is designed for pastry chefs that have at least three years of staff and food production management experience in a foodservice operation. Candidates must successfully pass a written examination and a practical examination at an ACF-approved testing location.
  • Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC): The CWPC certification is available to pastry chefs with at least five years of entry-level experience. Candidates must successfully pass both a practical examination and a written test that includes 100 multiple choice questions.
  • Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC): The CMPC is the highest designation available from the American Culinary Federation for pastry chefs. Designed for experienced chefs, candidates must hold a current Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) or Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) designation from ACF. Earning CMPC requires the completion comprehensive testing process and an examination fee of $3,300.

Baking and pastry arts career outlook

There are numerous potential employment paths in retail and commercial baking, from restaurants to food manufacturing, specialty food stores to independent pastry shops. Although the BLS projects tepid national employment growth rates (6 percent) between 2012 and 2022, solid career opportunities exist in numerous states. For example, the following states have some of the best growth for bakers and pastry chefs:

  • Idaho: 26% growth
  • Texas: 20.8% growth
  • Georgia: 19.8% growth

Between 2014 and 2019, revenues in the baking industry are expected to climb to nearly $40 billion. As new markets continue to emerge (e.g. gluten-free products), new career avenues and opportunities should become available to graduates of baking schools.


  • American Bakers Association, Industry Data, http://americanbakers.org/industry-data/
  • American Culinary Federation, Apprenticeships, http://www.acfchefs.org/ACF/Education/Apprenticeship
  • American Culinary Federation, Certifications, https://www.acfchefs.org/ACF/Certify/Levels/ACF/Certify/Levels/#bpp
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh
  • Culinary Institute of America, Academics, http://www.ciachef.edu/academics/
  • SBDC, Bakery Business, 2014, http://www.sbdcnet.org/small-business-research-reports/bakery-business-2014

Featured Baking And Pastry Arts Schools

Check out this directory of Baking And Pastry Arts schools and institutes to get started!

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5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
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Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
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  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
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  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
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  • Online Courses
  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, career-focused education since 1953.
  • Offers classes online, as well as at 14 campuses across California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia.
  • Develops curriculum with input from employers, subject matter experts.
  • Has small class sizes to promote one-on-one, student-teacher interaction.
  • Makes no-cost tutoring available in every subject to every enrolled student.
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  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
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  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities ( beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
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  • Gives students the option to choose from day, evening, and weekend classes to fit their schedule.
  • Offers public spa and salon services at all campuses for students to gain real-world experience.
  • Provides short specialty programs and workshops open to non-students as well.
  • Has 60 campuses across the United States.
  • Accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS).
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  • Accredited
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UEI College , Anaheim
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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  • Financial Aid
  • Has over 350 employees who provide personalized, one-on-one live student support.
  • Partnered with AmeriCorps to create the Segal AmeriCorps education award that pays up to $5,500 towards tuition.
  • Provides 100% tuition assistance for military service members who qualify.
  • Offers JANET, the Job Assistance Network that covers instruction on résumé writing, cover letters and weekly job leads for up to three years.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
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  • Online Courses
  • A private university founded in 1939.  
  • Part of an international network of Assemblies of God colleges and universities.
  • Offers bachelor’s programs that give students the option to take one 7-week course at a time and complete their degree in as few as 36 months.
  • Provides 18 month programs for a master of arts in organizational leadership, digital media, and more.
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  • Online Courses

Saint Francis University’s 100% Online Master of Human Resource Management

Saint Francis University’s online Master of Human Resource Management program provides students with the theoretical and practical advanced knowledge necessary to become human resource leaders of the best kind.

  • Online Courses
  • One of the largest massage therapy schools in the nation teaching since 1979.
  • First massage school in California to be nationally accredited.
  • Has a successful job placement record— 86% of graduates get placed into work in massage therapy.
  • Provides massage therapist education with multiple methods to ensure every student learns the material.
  • Offers lifetime career placement assistance and holds partnerships with a variety of employers.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
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Milan Institute , Bakersfield
  • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
  • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
  • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
Fremont College , Online (campus option available)
Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986. The most significant evolution of the College started when its third CEO, Dr. Sabrina Kay, assumed leadership in 2007. Fremont College became an innovative center adopting the framework of Work-Based Learning Leadership at the Wharton School and Dr. Kay’s thesis on improved learning through practice and collaboration.
  • Online Courses

More Baking And Pastry Arts Schools in the U.S.

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