Pastry Chef Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

100,600

JOB OPENINGS

-800

JOB GROWTH

1%

AVG. SALARY

$40,630 /yr

$19.53 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

A pastry chef works in professional kitchens naming desserts, breads, pastries, and other baked goods. A pastry chef can find work in restaurants, hotels, bistros, cafes, and bistros throughout the country—and throughout the world. In formal kitchens, pastry chefs work as station chefs as part of a culinary team.

Daily work for a pastry chef involves researching and coming up with new recipes, developing and testing recipes, and pre-preparing certain ingredients. In many cases, pastry chefs work on desserts. 

How to Become a Pastry Chef


You don’t need a degree in baking to become a pastry chef—and many restaurants will hire based on experience and skill.

There are pros and cons to earning your degree as a pastry chef. Chief among the cons is the expense of culinary school—although baking and pastry programs are often less expensive than other culinary specialties. In addition, the better culinary schools often have placement programs that can help you find a job when you graduate.

If you do decide to go to school, there are a few different options available for study. Degrees you can earn include:

A certificate or diploma. These programs take about six months to a year, and usually train students for basic line and prep cook positions, rather than offering specific training in pastry-making. Generally, this degree program will help you get an entry-level job in a kitchen, but you may need work experience to get a job as a pastry chef. 

An Associate’s degree. These are two-year programs that train students for line cook positions that lead to a chef position. In addition to learning how to make pastries, you’ll learn how to plan menus, operate a restaurant, purchase ingredients, and other skills training.

A Bachelor’s degree. A four-year degree will train you for a management-level position in running a restaurant. In addition to hands-on cooking skill, you’ll learn about different topics related to hospitality management. Typically, you won’t need this degree to be a pastry chef unless your goal is to advance to a higher-level position or own your own café or restaurant.

You’ll also have the option of earning a degree at a culinary school or a college with a culinary arts program. The difference is that at a culinary school, you’ll take classes only with other students majoring in the culinary arts, and all non-culinary classes will have a purpose that relates to culinary topics. At a college with a culinary arts program, you will most likely be required to take other arts classes in addition to culinary classes in earning a more traditional liberal arts degree.

Pastry Chef Salary

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median yearly salary for chefs and head cooks was $40,630. Those on the lower end of the pay scale earned about $23,260, while those on the higher end earned more than $70,960.

As a pastry chef, how much you make depends on both where in the country you live and what type of employer you have. Generally, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, those in the hospitality industry, working for hotels, tend to be the highest paid—while the lowest paid tend to be employed by limited-service restaurants.

Pastry Chef Job Outlook

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, growth for head cook and chef jobs in general is projected to stay fairly flat in the coming decade. While an improving economy is expected to fuel demand for skilled cooks, many restaurants have been hiring lower-level cooks to perform higher-level work for lower pay—and it’s possible this trend will continue.

Online Degrees and Becoming a Pastry Chef

The difficulty with earning a culinary arts degree online at an accredited online college is that a large proportion of the program is hands-on—so you will need a certain amount of training in a professional kitchen in order to learn the required skills.

However, holding an online degree in itself is generally not a barrier to employment—except when applying for jobs within very exclusive restaurants and hotels. These employers tend to be selective, and you will likely be competing with other candidates who have a large amount of experience, or possibly a degree from a more high-ranked culinary arts school.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pastry Chef

Many pastry chefs work early mornings and late evenings—as well as weekends and holidays. The job can be physically demanding, and you will likely be on your feet all day. In addition, the pay is not high except at the more exclusive restaurants and hotels. Because of this, turnover in the field tends to be high. However, this field offers the opportunity through creative expression through food—and for those with a passion for it, being a pastry chef can be very rewarding.

For Additional Information:

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chefs and Head Cooks

Where to Find Pastry Chef Jobs:

Monster.com
Indeed.com
CareerBuilder.com: Pastry Chef