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.

Baking Pastry 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

Browse Baking and Pastry Arts Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            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.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 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.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            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 12:1, 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.
            Show more [+]
            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.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            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.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.