The qualifications needed to get a job as a pastry chef vary by employer as well as the availability of education and training within a particular geographic area. Cooking is generally not a licensed profession, so there are no absolute standards for pastry chef qualifications. To become a pastry chef, a person typically has the option of serving an apprenticeship or completing a formal training program at a culinary school. Other pastry chef qualifications include certification and recognition of achievement by professional associations that serve the culinary industry.
The work of a pastry chef typically requires expert training, as pastry is a unique branch of the culinary arts. Some pastry chefs get their start through a formal or informal apprenticeship. Depending on where the aspiring chef lives, he may be able to obtain pastry chef qualifications simply by getting an entry-level job in a kitchen and eventually working his way up the ranks. Once he displays some culinary talent, he can work with the pastry chef to learn the craft. In a formal apprenticeship, the apprentice will likely complete a more structured program, which may include a combination of kitchen work as well as classroom training.
There are several school-based options for obtaining pastry chef qualifications. In many areas, it is possible to receive culinary training through vocational schools, community colleges, and even universities. Vocational schools typically award a certificate or diploma after completing a course of study. Community colleges may offer students the option of obtaining either a diploma or an associate’s degree in culinary arts. Universities, on the other hand, typically require students to complete a bachelor’s degree, which may include a foundation in liberal arts studies as well as training in both the culinary arts and food service management. Many educational programs include training in baking and pastry as part of their standard curriculum, though some schools offer specialized degree or certificate programs that focus entirely on pastry work.
In addition to formal education, other types of pastry chef qualifications include professional certification and industry recognition. Some culinary associations award certifications for pastry chefs who have reached certain levels of achievement in their careers, such as working in a supervisory position in a kitchen for a specific number of years. These associations may also issue high-level certifications for pastry chefs who have both achieved great success and acclaim in their careers and who are also willing to participate in a multi-day test of their skills in a controlled environment. While these certifications may not be necessary for obtaining a job, they can help a pastry chef establish her reputation within her field.