Pastry Chef Degrees: Learn how to break into baking

Light, flaky crust…butterscotch chunk cookies…chocolate drizzled over everything from fruits to peanuts. If you dream about the sweet stuff every day, combine your Artist ’s eye for detail and your flair for creativity to become a Pastry Chef. So where do you start your quest to become the biggest thing the baking world’s seen since sliced bread?

The answer to that question is: with an internship or some job experience. Don’t worry about spending too much time in this role though; the real purpose for this initial work is to figure out if the reality of your dream job is anything like you imagined. Figure out who the best of the best are in your town, and then (politely) ask if you could spend some time working for free in their kitchen or job shadowing them for a day or two.

Baking can be an amazing experience, but it can also entail long hours, stressful days, and difficult coworkers. So before you sink quite a bit of money into schooling, figure out if it’s really for you.

If you emerge from the kitchen more excited than ever, then the next step is to get yourself into school. There are many options for a culinary degree, from culinary schools, academies, and institutes all over the country to art schools and community colleges. Wherever you go, you’ll get basic training and skills that will let you start working in a restaurant or bakery.

When looking at schools, take into account things like where you want to live and work, how long you want to be in school, and how much you can afford to pay. Though each degree gets you pretty much to the same place in the beginning (intern, Food Runner, Sous Chef), you’ll advance much faster and further with a more intense degree program. The intensity of your program can come from the number of years it lasts or the quality of the school.

The best thing you can do to improve your resume is to get some experience and start a solid network. Some schools include time to intern in their curriculum, while for others, you’ll need to take advantage of your summer and winter breaks. In any case, make sure to connect and work with as many different Bakers as possible while you try to get your career off and running.

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