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Information on Baking and Pastry Arts Schools

A glance inside a pastry shop might reveal flaky croissants, beautiful cakes decorated with swirling designs, elegant éclairs, and some deceptively simple artisanal loaves of bread. Behind each of these delicious creations lies the skill and care of a cook trained in baking and pastry arts.

Many love to bake and are good at it. Becoming a professional baker, however, takes physical stamina, the ability to work in a hot, fast-paced environment under pressure, and strong communication skills. A degree in baking and pastry arts can build on this foundation.

Inside Baking and Pastry Schools: the Curriculum

Baking and pastry schools offer a range of skills and classes, with course topics varying by the selected program. At the core of their programs, most baking and pastry arts schools typically include baking courses in:

  • Quick breads and yeast breads
  • Cakes, cookies, pies, and tarts
  • Dessert sauces and custards
  • Sugarwork, chocolate, and marzipan

In these baking and pastry courses, students become familiar with important ingredients and mixing techniques. In addition, classes cover equipment usage, baker's math, menu planning, production techniques, and food safety and sanitation. Some programs also include business essentials for running a bake shop.

Many programs also recognize the need for professional experience, often requiring an externship. By working in a kitchen, students acquire hands-on skills important for transitioning into a professional baking career.

Know About Types of Baking and Pastry Colleges

Culinary students have a wide variety of baking and pastry colleges to choose from. Some of the most common institutions offering a culinary education with an emphasis in baking and pastry arts are listed here, along with some basic characteristics:

  • Culinary Schools: Don’t be fooled by the title – culinary schools, while offering professional training in the kitchen, also provide courses in business skills and scientific processes. Students interested in baking and pastries in particular enroll in baking and pastry arts concentrations.
  • Vocational schools with baking and pastry programs: These schools provide students with a wide variety of culinary skills while simultaneously teaching business and science fundamentals. Many students find vocational schools to be a practical choice when developing their baking and pastry career.
  • Colleges that have culinary majors, degrees and certificates: Appropriate for students at all stages of a culinary career, these schools offer a diverse range of degrees. Students interested in baking and pastry arts in particular can find programs with a baking and pastry emphasis.

With such a variety of schools, which one should students choose? Prospective students should research the schools according to the location and degree offering appropriate for them.

Which Baking Degree Should You Get?

While experience is important in the restaurant business, a degree from a top baking and pastry school demonstrates the depth of culinary knowledge to employers. Depending on the program and the depth of focus, prospective students may consider a:

  • Diploma or certificate: These programs range from four months to a year and provide training for entry-level positions in bakeries and restaurants. Students working towards a pastry diploma or baking certificate learn fundamental baking and culinary arts techniques.
  • Associate degree: Students in these baking and pastry programs learn the fundamentals, but also augment their baking education with courses that introduce human resources management and finance skills. Associate degrees in baking and pastry arts typically take two years to complete.
  • Bachelor's degree: These four-year degrees generally focus on more extensive management training. Students in these programs need to know culinary processes and techniques, of course, but dive into additional event management, food marketing, and business courses - important for baking management, leadership positions, and maintaining a successful business.

Prospective students should start researching degree programs by thinking about where they are, and where they want to be, in their baking and pastry arts career.

Baking Scholarships and School Cost

The price of baking and pastry colleges varies enormously, depending on the type of school, program, and degree. Students considering professional training should note that baking and pastry schools often require purchasing books, uniforms, and supplies on top of paying for regular tuition.

However, pastry and baking schools offer degrees at a diverse range of price points.  Private and federal loans, grants, and baking and pastry scholarships may be used to make a school’s degree program within financial reach. Navigating the grants and loans for any degree program can be confusing; looking over a culinary arts financial aid guide, which includes scholarships for baking and pastry arts students, can help.

Is Pastry School Necessary?

Pastry chefs and bakers work in many settings. Restaurants, hotel or resort kitchens, supermarket bakeries, specialty bakeries, catering businesses, and even research kitchens for food manufacturers are all places that employ workers trained in baking and pastry arts. Many hardworking and talented bakers without a formal education have found good jobs with opportunities for advancement.

So, not everyone agrees that going to baking school is worth the time and money. After all, there is a lot to learn outside of a baking school classroom. Some professionals recommend simply going to the best restaurant you can find and starting at the bottom.

While there are no strict baking or pastry chef education requirements for landing a job, there are advantages of pursuing professional training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), specialized training can increase chances of finding a job in competitive upscale restaurants and hotels where the pay tends to be better. Highly trained bakers should also be in demand thanks to the rising popularity of special food products. Furthermore, graduates of top culinary schools who have sharp business skills and management finesse are often more appealing potential hires in an economy where employers value financial know-how.

How Much Do Bakers and Pastry Chefs Earn?

The salary of a pastry chef or baker can vary according to the location, size, and popularity of the restaurant and the level of responsibility of the position. Many start careers in baking and pastry arts in entry level positions, later working to positions of higher responsibility with added experience. In 2014, the BLS found that the average pastry chef salary, along with other chefs and head cooks, came to $45,880. That same year, the BLS calculated the average baker’s salary at $25,550 annually nationwide. They also found that, in general, the highest paying jobs in upscale restaurants and eateries were the most competitive, and that highly skilled bakers had strong demand from employers.

Experience counts the most for those building careers in baking and pastry arts. However, pastry and baking school can help furnish skills and give potential bakers a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Additional Resources for Baking and Pastry Arts Students on Chef2chef.net
Baking Schools and Programs
Pastry Chef Schools and Training

Additional Information on Baking and Pastry Arts Schools and Careers
Bureau of Labor Statistics on careers in baking
Bureau of Labor Statistics career information on chefs and head cooks
Occupational Information Network (O*NET) on career skills important to bakers

Featured Baking And Pastry Arts Schools

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5 Program(s) Found
  • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
  • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
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
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • 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
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, personal approach to education since 1946.
  • Provides associate degrees and short-term certificate programs in business, design, healthcare, and more.
  • Offers alumni free “brush up” classes, allowing graduates to exercise certain skills or software that they may not have used in a while.
  • Gives students many options for campus activities, including intramural sports, drama club, and campus parties.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
  • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
  • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
  • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
  • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
  • Has student housing available.
  • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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2 Program(s) Found
The Chef's Academy , Indianapolis
  • Listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
  • Offers intern and externship placement assistance for real-world experience.
  • Offers programs in culinary arts, pastry arts, and hospitality & restaurant management.
  • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF).
  • 2 campus locations in Indianapolis, Indiana and Morrisville, North Carolina.
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5 Program(s) Found
  • Founded in 1979 as the Star Technical Institute school group, offering career training in drafting and design.
  • Provides education and training towards employment in the healthcare, culinary, baking, beauty, and hospitality career fields.
  • Their Fast Track Diploma/Certificate Programs can enable students to be job-ready in as little as eight months.
  • A Career Services Office helps match graduates with potential employers.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
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  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
  • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
  • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
  • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
  • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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4 Program(s) Found
  • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
  • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
  • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
  • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
  • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
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  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Preparing individuals for career opportunities, technology training, and certifications for the medical, culinary arts, HVAC repair, legal, and cosmetology fields since 1934.
  • Has many lecture classes with a maximum of a 30:1 student to teacher ratio, and most lab classes with a maximum of an 18:1 student to teacher ratio.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools.
  • Has locations in Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Lansing, Madison Heights, Roseville, Saginaw, Southgate, Waterford-Pontiac and Wayne-Westland.
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  • Financial Aid
3 Program(s) Found
  • Scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities are available to students who qualify.
  • 40,000 square foot campus facility, including a full-service restaurant and dining room, a kitchen amphitheatre, 3 demonstration labs, and more.
  • Student clubs and activities include several culinary competitions, student video demonstrations, and the garden club.
  • Programs include advanced culinary arts, baking & pastry, and hospitality & culinary management.
  • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation.
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3 Program(s) Found
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers career-focused programs in allied health, business, and computer technology, and more.
  • On-the-job training available through externships, internships, and clinical placements.
  • Graduates in good standing can take refresher sessions in courses at no additional cost.
  • Day and evening class options are available for flexible scheduling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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2 Program(s) Found
  • Each campus features a public restaurant where culinary students work under the direction of professional chefs for real-world experience.
  • Hosts Platt College’s Food Fight, a friendly dessert competition for students held once a month.
  • Offers programs in culinary arts, nursing, and healthcare.
  • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (AFC) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • 5 campuses in Lawton, North and Central Oklahoma City, Moore, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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