Advancement opportunities abound for a pastry chef. Your particular chances depend in large part upon your training, experience, talent and desires. Whether you see yourself as pastry chef in a prestigious kitchen, head chef, restaurant owner or teacher, these careers are open to you with the right background and experience. You can improve your prospects by getting training, experience and certifications in line with your dreams.
Basic Post-Secondary Training
Although not absolutely required, college, trade school or other post-secondary training will open up more jobs and advancement opportunities to you as a pastry chef. Basic courses include baking and food preparation, control of costs, food storage and sanitation. If you wish to advance, choose among more than 100 programs with certification from the American Culinary Federation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Take a one-year certificate in pastry, or complete a two-year program that includes business classes. Classes in management improve your chances of future advancement to head pastry chef or head chef.
Apprenticeship programs also help equip a pastry chef for advancement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Culinary Institute, hotels, restaurants and the armed forces offer apprenticeships throughout the United States. These programs usually combine about two years of practical experience with class instruction. Hotels and restaurants also often have programs to train chefs for promotion to head cook or executive chef.
Certifications from the American Culinary Federation can increase your chances of obtaining advancement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pursue the certifications in line with your ambitions because the choices are many. Certifications are available in baking and pastry, administration, education, cooking professional and personal cooking. The cooking professional certifications, for example, advance through five levels. At the fourth level, a certified executive chef is equipped to head a hotel or restaurant kitchen. If you wish to advance as a pastry specialist, the certified executive pastry chef will qualify you for a job as head pastry chef. The federation also has two certifications for those wanting to teach, one for educators at secondary or vocational schools, and one for teachers at post-secondary schools.
Higher Degree Options
Although not all pastry chefs have degrees, a bachelor's or graduate degree will increase your chances of advancement into management positions such as head pastry chef or head chef, according to The Reluctant Gourmet. Get a graduate degree if you want to teach other chefs, because educator designations from the American Culinary Federation require an advanced degree. If you want to manage a restaurant, a bachelor's degree or higher in food service management or hospitality will help you.
In addition to teaching or management, a pastry chef can pursue other career options. If you enjoy writing, you can become a food writer or food critic. You can open your own bakery, patisserie or restaurant. Once you gain the skills, experience and reputation, you can even become a pastry chef or private chef for an internationally prominent person.