Five Tips for Choosing Baking Schools

Read advice on how to choose between baking schools.

female baker

Tomorrow's bakers and pastry chefs learn the skills and techniques they'll need in baking schools across the country. But passion for food can only take you so far. If you want to accomplish your dream of creating delicious desserts or whimsical wedding cakes, getting the right training is essential. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a pastry chef school:

1. Types of Baking Schools

There are actually several different types of institutions that provide culinary education for aspiring chefs. Depending on your location, financial situation and career goals, certain types of pastry chef schools may fit you better than others.

  • Culinary Institutes: A culinary academy or institute provides training specifically in the culinary arts. They offer short, hands-on programs designed to give you the skills needed to start working in a kitchen immediately upon graduation.
     
  • Community Colleges and Vocational Schools: Students seeking culinary arts training may also choose a community college or vocational school. Community colleges and vocational baking schools are often less expensive than private programs at culinary institutes because they're subsidized by government funding.
     
  • College or University: Colleges and universities offer a well-rounded liberal arts education with a heavy focus on academic achievement. Not many universities offer baking programs, but those that do focus on students pursuing management positions or wanting to start their own baking businesses.

2. Baking and Pastry Degree Programs

Choose a degree type based on how quickly you wish to start your new career, your financial resources and the depth of education you want to pursue:

  • Certificate: Enrolling in a certificate program at a local baking school is generally the quickest way to receive the basic training for a pastry chef career. Taking between six months and one year to complete, certificate programs are most often found at culinary institutes and vocational schools.
     
  • Diploma: A diploma program is the most common degree at a culinary institute or vocational pastry chef school. Programs can usually be completed in one year or less and will prepare you with the culinary skills and pastry creation techniques necessary to work in a restaurant or bakery.
     
  • Associate's Degree: A 2-year associate's degree combines culinary arts training with other academic courses. Many associate's degree programs are geared students with restaurant management aspirations.
     
  • Bachelor's Degree: Bachelor's degrees are the standard at colleges and universities. You'll focus on basic culinary techniques, restaurant management and hospitality training. If your future career goals include management, a bachelor's degree is a great asset.

3. Program Flexibility

Many baking schools offer two types of programs to meet students' needs:

  • Full-time Day Programs: Students in full-time day programs usually start classes in the morning and end in the early afternoon. Committing to a full-time schedule can enable you to finish your studies in a shorter time. However, this rigorous schedule makes it difficult to work while in school.
     
  • Part-time Evening Programs: Students who intend to work full-time jobs while in school will find part-time schools more convenient. Classes generally go for a few hours during the evening. However, these programs generally take longer to complete than traditional day programs.

4. Baking Schools Accreditation

Accredited baking schools have received recognition for meeting national or regional standards for the quality of their education from one of the six regional accrediting organizations or from one of the following national agencies:

5. Life After Baking School

When choosing a baking or pastry chef school, you should also consider how well they do in placing graduates into pastry chef jobs. Ask yourself the following questions, and weigh how well the answers match your career goals:

  • Does the school offer job placement for recent graduates?
  • How long are placement services offered: months or years after graduation, or lifetime placement services?
  • How many graduates find jobs after six months?
  • What is the average salary of graduates who become bakers and pastry chefs?