To enter the workforce as a pastry chef you will want to attend a culinary arts college to get a diploma or certification. Culinary arts programs include classes in equipment, organization, baking and pastry recipes, technique, and so on. A student will need a lot of hands-on training too, including practical experience as an intern or working in the industry. You can work your way up the kitchen hierarchy, but a formal education will be your best bet for potential career advancement in the future. If you want to open your own bakery or head a kitchen staff of bakers, you will learn everything you need to know. This is why it is important to take classes sooner rather than later.
A pastry certificate or degree can be earned through a culinary arts program at trade and technical schools, community colleges, and universities. A student can get broad instruction in hospitality and business courses. They can also focus specifically on a certificate or associate’s in pastry and baking arts. The time commitment is anywhere from 3 months to 4 years. Regardless, the minimum hours of hands-on experience are around 600 hours.
The cost for a certificate or diploma is around $20,000+. These programs can be intensive modules over a 3 month period or 15 months at a more casual pace. Students will have to keep in mind that the reputation of the professionals and institute will have an impact on tuition rates. Additionally, if you intend to take courses in France, most are taught in French with an English interpreter. Some require separate language instruction for an additional cost. Depending on the type of program, you will either have housing expenses on or off the college campus. The longer the commitment, the higher the cost. Students almost always have some kind of internship. If you are just interested in cooking as a hobby and not a career, perhaps you would be better off to find out what you learn in a workshop or class.
Certificate and diploma students will learn on campus alongside experienced professionals to gain technical knowledge. They will also develop skills that help build unique style and signature creations. Study is focused on how to mix ingredients, temperatures, recipes, tools and equipment, style and presentation, and nutrition. Obviously, what you can expect to learn is how to prepare cakes, pastries, macarons, tarts, breads, desserts, confections, fillings, and icing as well.
An associate's will cover much of the same content, adding over 700 hours of practice. The structure will be a traditional 4 semesters over 2 years. The cost varies, but is an average of $26,000 per year or $54,000 total.
A bachelor’s will cover the fundamentals and have a mandatory internship. It will also include a concentration in specialties related to the hospitality and culinary industry. Focus on restaurant management, purchasing, organic farming, professional kitchen organization, small business management, nutrition, molecular food science, and many other niches. The program is 8 semesters over 4 years. The average semester is $13,000 with a total of $100,000+ for a bachelor’s.
There are many different paths to choose from depending on your future aspirations and level of passion for this field. One thing is for certain, you will have to start somewhere and taking a cooking class is an important first step in understanding your interest in the culinary arts.
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