baking and pastry schools are on the rise

A sure way to make a lot of dough when you leave culinary college could be to become a baker or pastry chef. The allure of working in a bakery is so strong, many chefs find the more dough they make, the more they knead it. Feeding this growing demand for bakers, pastry chefs, and cake creators are baking and pastry schools. Reasons for their rise in popularity are many, not the yeast of which is the fun work environment. 


Baking & Pastry Making is Attractive

chef salaryThe median income for chefs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was $42,480 annually as of May, 2012. Contrast this with the cost of a degree program at a strong baking and pastry school: 

  • May, 2012 median annual income—$42,480
  • Tuition, books, supplies, fees, August, 2015—$23,510
  • Amount by which the median income surpasses the total cost of a great education—$18,970
  • At the median income (May, 2012), months needed to pay off total cost (August, 2015) of baking and pastry arts degree—just over six months

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Schools who teach flour skills are flourishing, not least because students flock to settings where they do not stir up staggering student debt. Nobody expects professional bakers to pay off student debt by devoting 100 percent of their income to the debt, but clearly the high earnings capacities of great bakers and pastry chefs make the possible career paths as attractive as a six-tier wedding cake in a bakery window. 

Baking Can Be Wholesome

The whole baking and cooking industry has always enjoyed steady growth, and the BLS predicts a five percent rise in employment through 2022. While the occasional cake may fall, the job outlook is trending up. Sprinkle in the growing trend in American eating toward niche markets, and you have the recipe for successful careers in many fields: 

  • Gluten-free baking
  • Therapy baking and cake decorating
  • Health-conscious baking and desserts
  • Cruise ship kitchens
  • Nursing facilities, hospitals and rehabilitation centers
  • Immersive experiences in large grocery chains and food clubs

No Half-Baked Ideas

bakers and pastry chefs job outlook growthBakers are not the same as pastry chefs. Our daily bread comes to us from commercial and artisan bakeries, which often rely on modern technology to increase productivity. The BLS notes that bakers, as a job classification, are expected to find gainful employment at a six percent growth rate through 2022. Due to reliance on mass-production methods, however, the median pay bakers of May, 2012 was $23,140, says the BLS. This, clearly, is a smaller piece of the pie than the best pastry chefs receive, but a baker’s life is not all crusts and crumbs: 

  • One in three bakers worked part-time in 2012, allowing plenty of time for other pursuits and passions
  • More than half of all bakers work in grocery stores and restaurants, producing breads, muffins, rolls, croutons and other delectables all day and evening long, in great work environments
  • Talented bakers may not concentrate on pies and cakes, but have the knowledge and flexibility to bake them alongside their loaves and croissants
  • Independent bakers often attract loyal followings, fetching high prices for their popular local favorites

Baking & Pastry Arts Schools

Baking and pastry arts schools are spreading like jam slathered across warm ciabatta rolls. A recent article even highlighted the therapeutic qualities of baking. Bakers and pastry chefs take on students in need of mental health services, coaching them through kitchen creations that produce everything from cinnamon rolls to confident smiles. 

Most baking and pastry arts programs are part of larger culinary schools, and nearly every state in the nation has at least one such school.

A prospective student needs to search cautiously, because some schools are just out of the oven, new to the landscape. The time needed for a school to build up a strong baking and pastry arts program is far more than 35-40 minutes at 350º.

A good school takes time to gather superior instructors, develop links to outside companies for externships, and build modern kitchens and labs. They concentrate on developing specific, industry-driven skills in their students: 

  • Cakes and tarts
  • Artisan breads
  • Viennoiserie
  • Chocolate and confections
  • Petit fours, custards, glacés
  • Banquet and buffet service
  • Nutrition
  • Alternative baking

A rising baker or pastry chef learns to work as a team member, mastering techniques and kitchen speed. Productive bakers and pastry chefs cannot rest on their last cupcake; a good kitchen produces a blizzard of baked goods with consistently high standards of quality and visual appeal. 

If you think you have what it bakes to be a great pastry chef, enroll in ECPI’s College of Culinary Arts, the Culinary Institute of Virginia. You have choices of earning a diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts, or a degree with additional class work. Contact ECPI today to see how our program could be your introduction to the sweet life. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

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