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Pastry Chef (baker) Career Guide

If you’re someone who has a real passion for baking sweet treats, and is assertive and attentive, you may thrive as a pastry chef!

Pastry chefs are in charge of all the baking aspects of kitchens and restaurants. They can work in any setting involving pastry: from bakeries to small cafes to large restaurants. To become a pastry chef, you don’t need any postsecondary education. However, many chefs attend technical schools, culinary art schools or complete apprenticeship programs.

Brillat-Savarin already said the invention of a new recipe brings more happiness to mankind than the discovery of a new star. There are plenty of stars already. Few activities provide such gratification to others as pastry. Contributing to someone’s well-being with your work will fill you with satisfaction.

Alberto Ruiz

Pastry Chef (baker) Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Pastry Chef (baker) Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Pastry Chef (baker) field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33732 Pastry Chef Female 24 $18,000 lake oswego, OR 01/01/2010
33420 Pastry And Prep Chef Female 35 $35,000 Philadelphia, PA 01/01/2010
32869 R&D Bakery Lab Technician Female 24 $32,000 Anaheim, CA 01/01/2010

Overview

What a pastry chef does

If you enjoy making fancy sweet treats or breads, then you might find yourself very well suited to a career as a pastry chef. Pastry chefs are in charge of all the baking aspects of kitchens and restaurants. They can work in any setting involving pastry: from bakers to small cafes to large restaurants. Their responsibilities will vary slightly depending on their experience and who they work for. However, their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Preparing a wide variety of goods such as cakes and pies
  • Creating new and exciting desserts to renew menus and entice more customers
  • Decorating pastries using different toppings
  • Preparing, cleaning and organizing ingredients for use in the kitchen
  • Ensuring the kitchen is clean and sanitized at all times
  • Overseeing a team of junior pastry cooks and other staff members as necessary
  • Maintaining up to date knowledge about pastry arts and ingredients
  • Carrying out administrative duties to maintain an efficient workspace
  • Studying recipes and ensuring that the correct ingredients are ordered
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety regulation

Why they are needed

Revenue in the food and beverages industry is projected to reach $236,529m in 2020. Pastry chefs, clearly, play a fundamental role in this industry by baking the sweet treats that contribute to the thriving industry. Without pastry chefs, we would not be able to enjoy a dessert with our family or a croissant on a Sunday morning!

Pros and cons of a career as a pastry chef:

Pros:

  • There are no formal education requirements, therefore it is a relatively easy career to enter
  • Jobs are available worldwide
  • You get to express your creativity
  • There is lots of variety (e.g., you could work in cafe, at a high end restaurant, for a university)
  • The demand for skilled pastry chefs is increasing, which creates job security
  • You get to work as part of a cohesive team

Cons:

  • It is a physically demanding job that requires you to be on your feet and working in uncomfortable conditions (e.g., a hot kitchen)
  • The pay can be uncertain
  • The hours can be long and unpredictable
  • You may have to work weekends, evenings, and holidays
  • It can be a stressful and high pressured job, especially when the kitchen is busy

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of bakers (which are essentially pastry chefs) is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

This employment growth is expected because the growing population will continue to create demands for specialty baked goods from grocery stores, retail bakeries and restaurants. There will be a slight decline of employment for bakers in food manufacturing, as the use of automated machines and equipment will mass-produce baked goods.

Career paths

The real key to becoming a pastry chef is to gain experience in the profession. Often, pastry chefs will start as a baker’s assistant. To become a pastry chef, you will normally receive on-the-job training to teach you all he skills you need. Some employers provide apprenticeship programs, where pastry chefs will learn the basics of baking, icing and decorating and study topics such as nutrition, sanitation and basic baking.

Although post secondary education is not essential, many pastry chefs attend a technical or culinary school. Here, they will spend 1 to 2 years studying nutrition, food safety and basic maths. To do this, you must have a high school diploma.

Example Job Titles for Pastry Chef (baker)

Below is a list of common job titles in the Pastry Chef (baker) field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annal salary for bakers/pastry chefs in the United States was $27,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,310 per annum and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14,640 per annum. The highest paying industry was bakeries and tortilla manufacturing, which has am median annual salary of $28,320. Food and beverage stores was the second highest paying industry, with an annual salary of $27,940.

A pastry chefs income can vary widely, depending upon whether they have their own bakery/restaurant or works for others, as well as the restaurant quality and type.

Autonomy and Flexibility

In general, a pastry chef should have relatively high autonomy. They are normally in charge of most pastry kitchen decisions, and have control over the sweet treats they present. In terms of flexibility, kitchens are highly stressful places and pastry chefs will have little flexibility to plan their days and the hours they work.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a pastry chef based on average annual salary and number of jobs available, are:

  1. Wisconsin, where the average annual salary was $52,530
  2. Nevada, where the average annual salary was $50,839
  3. Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary was $54,931
  4. District of Columbia where the average annual salary was $56,898
  5. New Jersey, where the average annual salary was $64,618

The worst states, according to Zippia, were Ohio, South Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska and Montana.

Work environment

The largest employers of pastry chefs in the United States was the bakery and tortilla manufacturing industry, which employed 30% of all bakers. Food and beverage stores hired 26%, restaurants and other eating places hired 20% and 6% of all bakers in the United States were self-employed.

Pastry chefs can work in kitchens, where they work under strict deadlines. The kitchens tend to be fast-paced environments, that must be kept clean and sanitary at all times. Pastry chefs tend to stand up for most of the day. There is a risk of injury, as chefs work with hot ovens, sharp knives and the floors may be slippy (from spillages or cleaning).

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Pastry Chef (baker) careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Pastry Chef (baker) career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Pastry Chef (baker).

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

There has been no detailed exploration as to what personality traits will make a successful pastry chef. However, it is very possible that successful pastry chefs are ENTJ personality types. ENTJ’s, otherwise known as ‘the commander’, are motivated and assertive. They take charge, and pave ways for others (e.g., like bakery assistants) to follow. They are ambitious and decisive, which is ideal for planning high quality menus. They can spot inefficiency and they work tirelessly to achieve their goals and high standards. All of these qualities are crucial for being a successful pastry chef.

Accomplishment and mastery

Pastry chefs spend a long time learning and perfecting their skills. Therefore, when they have enough skills and experience to secure a role a pastry chef, they will feel accomplished. Throughout their career, pastry chefs will continue to perfect and develop their skills, providing a sense of mastery. What is more, pastry chefs will feel a sense of accomplishment and mastery every time the produce a beautiful cake or pastry!

Meaning and contribution

The work of a chef has huge meaning and contribution to the food and beverage industry. Without them, the industry would not be able to thrive, as it does so well. However, the work of a chef is not greatly meaningful to the lives of those who are struggling. Therefore, if you are truly passionate about helping those in need, and want a career that does this, you may find the work completely lacks meaning and contribution.

Life fit

Some pastry chefs and balers will work part time. Many pastry chefs work full time, including early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays in order to prepare fresh goods. The life fit isn’t terrible, but it’s not the most flexible career!

Who will thrive in this career?

In order to thrive in this career, you must be creative, as you will be in charge of creating new and innovative desserts and pastries. You will must demonstrate leadership skills, as you will need to lead and mentor junior staff.  Time management skills are also key to thriving as a pastry chef, as kitchens can get busy very quickly and you will need to be able to prioritize tasks. Excellent hand-eye coordination will allow you to create small masterpieces, which ensures you will thrive.

A strong sense of taste and smell is also key to thriving as a pastry chef, as it is essential that pastries taste and smell good. So, if you love food and are looking for an accessible career with lots of opportunities, then look no further.

Who will struggle in this career?

It goes without saying that those who are not passionate about food (particularly sweet treats) will struggle in this career. This is because pastry chefs need to taste and smell their food to ensure it is suitable and delicious! As pastry chefs learns their skills through experience, those who aren’t particularly hands on or practical may struggle in this career. Finally, those who cannot think on their feet or remain calm in stressful situations may struggle as a chef, as it is a fast paced jobs where things often go wrong and need resolving (e.g., cakes getting burnt, mixtures not working).

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as a genuine interest and passion for sweet treats, pastry chefs will need skills and talents such as:

  • Willingness to learn, as becoming a pastry chef is a hands-on learning experience and chefs will continually develop their skills and techniques
  • Leadership skills, as pastry chefs will be in charge of junior kitchen staff
  • Attention to detail, as pastry chefs must be able to finely and neatly decorate pastries with precision
  • Dexterity, as pastry chefs need the hand eye coordination to neatly decorate pastry
  • Organization skills, as kitchens are busy and stressful and pastry chefs need to keep their work environment tidy and clean
  • Multitasking, as pastry chefs will have many different tasks to complete all at once (e.g., one cake has finished baking and needs to come out the over, but another cake needs decorating at the same time)

Education

Post secondary education is not essential to become a pastry chef. However, many pastry chefs attend a technical or culinary school to give them the best employment and development opportunities.

The real key to becoming a pastry chef is to gain experience in the profession. To become a pastry chef, you will normally receive on-the-job training to teach you all the skills you need. Some employers provide apprenticeship programs, where pastry chefs will learn the basics of baking, icing and decorating and study topics such as nutrition, sanitation and basic baking.

Certifications

Pastry chefs will have the opportunity for voluntary certification. This shows that the chef has the skills and  knowledge to work at a retail baking establishment.

The Retail Bakers of America offers certification in four levels of competence, with a focus on several topics, including baking sanitation, management, retail sales, and staff training. The education and experience requirements to fulfil this certification vary by the level of certification desired. For example, a Certified Journey Baker requires no education but must have at least 1 year of work experience.

How to Become

Summary

A career as a chef is a fast-paced and technical career that requires you to use creativity and imagination to produce unique and tasty treats. Over the coming years, the demand for chefs is expected to grow, offering lots of job opportunities.

Immediate action

If you want to become a pastry chef, then we suggest getting work experience in the hospitality industry. Whether thats as a pot washer in a kitchen or working at the tills in a bakery, the experience and knowledge is valuable!

Education and learning

To become a pastry chef, you don’t need any postsecondary education. However, many chefs attend technical schools or culinary art schools. Here, aspiring pastry chefs learn about nutrition, food safety and basic maths. Apprenticeship programs are also available.

Skill development

Part of being a successful pastry chef is enjoying the process. Pastry chefs will spend the entirety of their career developing and advancing their skills and knowledge!

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Pastry Chef (baker) careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33732 Pastry Chef Female 24 $18,000 lake oswego, OR 01/01/2010
33420 Pastry And Prep Chef Female 35 $35,000 Philadelphia, PA 01/01/2010
32869 R&D Bakery Lab Technician Female 24 $32,000 Anaheim, CA 01/01/2010

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