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Learn About Being a Pastry Chef



Pastry Chef

What does a pastry chef do?

A pastry chef is a culinary artist who specializes in creating desserts, sweets and breads. Whether they run their own establishment or oversee one station in a large kitchen, pastry chefs have many employment options. Some common responsibilities of a pastry chef include:

  • Preparing the desserts and breads on a menu

  • Training or supervising other pastry chefs or line cooks in preparing desserts and their components

  • Along with the sous chef and executive chef, refining the menu as needed and adding or altering existing dessert selections

  • If working for a custom bakery or caterer, coordinating with clients to create cakes and desserts for weddings, special events and banquets

  • Managing inventory and ingredients

  • Ensuring the work area is kept clean and equipment is properly maintained

  • Preparing samples for pastry or cake tastings

Average salary

Salaries for pastry chefs can vary depending on location, type of establishment and the chef’s level of experience. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $14.65 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.25 to $25.65 per hour.

Pastry chef requirements

Certifications or specific education is unnecessary to become an entry-level pastry chef, but certain skills will help you perform the job well:


For an entry-level pastry chef job, the only educational requirements are a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. However, you can pursue a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in pastry arts. Most programs offer a mix of direct preparation and culinary theory and apprenticeships in various baking and pastry institutions. Those who already have a bachelor’s degree can specialize by earning a master’s degree. While a diploma or degree is not required at the entry level, some employers, such as five-star hotels, might require some pastry education.


Most newly hired pastry chefs will receive on-the-job training in techniques and how to use equipment from their managers or sous and executive chefs. Training usually includes safety and hygiene procedures. If you earn a diploma or degree in pastry arts, you will receive training in basic techniques during required internships.


Though not required, certification can highlight your dedication and knowledge and increase your employability. Some certifications for pastry chefs include:

Pastry Chef Certifications

The American Culinary Federation offers five levels of certification for pastry chefs. The ACF also offers listings of educational institutions around the United States that offer various certifications of their own. Eligibility for certification levels varies based on education and experience.

ServSafe Food Manager Course

This certificate is offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and shows that you have been trained in the basics of food handling and safety. You can complete the course online or find an instructor to teach you the course material. You will have to pass an exam at the end of the course to receive the certificate. You will typically need to renew the certificate after five years, but that number varies according to jurisdiction.


The following skills can help you to be successful as a pastry chef:

  • Precision and attention to detail: Baking or preparing pastries often depends on finesse and fine measurements. Decorating pastry can also be like fine art in the level of care required. A pastry chef must be careful and precise.

  • Creativity: A pastry chef’s productions are often beautiful and delicious. Once they have mastered the basics, these professionals constantly refine techniques and try adding unusual ingredients to dishes.

  • Teamwork: Along with line chefs, sous chefs, executive chefs and front-room employees, a pastry chef is often part of a team of food producers. It is important to work together to prepare items on demand and meet customer needs.

  • Customer service: Especially if they are working with a wedding party or special events coordinator, pastry chefs frequently interact with clients on custom designs. The ability to make suggestions while attending to clients’ specifications is an important skill.

  • Stamina: A kitchen is a busy and intense environment, and pastry chefs will be on their feet and bent over their work for hours at a time. It is important to be physically fit and have fine motor skills.

Pastry chef work environment

A pastry chef’s work environment is usually an intense and focused one. They typically have a workstation or a part of the kitchen dedicated to their work. While pastry chefs in larger operations might have other cooks working for them, in a small catering firm or chocolate shop, pastry chefs might work independently. The environment includes specialized equipment and a great deal of perishable inventory, such as milk and eggs.

Pastry chefs can work in a variety of establishments, including:

  • Large hotels and resorts

  • Cafes

  • Catering firms

  • Restaurants

  • Bakeries

  • Grocery stores

  • Bistros

  • Cruise ships

  • Candy, chocolate or confectionery companies

  • Convention centers

  • Private homes as personal chefs

How to become a pastry chef

Take the following steps to pursue a career as a pastry chef:

  1. Consider earning a degree and certifications. To advance as a pastry chef, you may want to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts or pastry arts. You should also consider certification courses which often take less time to complete than a degree.

  2. Gain experience. Identify positions of interest in your geographical area and their requirements. You may want to specialize in a certain pastry for some positions, so pursue relevant experience as an assistant or intern to help you obtain your desired role.

  3. Create a resume. List your relevant experience, highest level of education, achievements and skills and target the resume to the specific job you are applying for. Write a cover letter for each position that highlights keywords from the job description.

  4. Prepare for an interview. Dress professionally, bring copies of your resume and a portfolio of your work and prepare answers to some common interview questions ahead of time. After the interview, email a thank-you note to your interviewer for their time.

Pastry chef job description example

Holly’s Artisanal Bakery has a position open for a creative and dynamic pastry chef who will manage our cake division. Culinary arts degree preferred, but the requirement can be waived for 5+ years of experience as a pastry chef or seven-plus years as a line chef working under a pastry chef. Time management skills and knowledge of inventory are essential. Job duties include meeting with wedding, baby shower and birthday cake customers, so excellent interpersonal skills are required. Please provide a portfolio and three references.

Related careers

  • Executive chef

  • Sous chef

  • Prep cook

  • Line cook

  • Restaurant manager

  • Kitchen manager

  • Caterer

  • Chef



Pastry Chef

Pastry Chef

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