Online pastry schools offer degree programs that can prepare students to work at different levels in the kitchen, from jobs for novices to managerial positions. This training is essential in order to prepare prospective bakers and pastry chefs for the realities of working in the kitchen. These workers have many duties that they must train for, including the following:
- Applying toppings, such as icings and glazes, to baked goods
- Ensuring that oven temperatures are set properly for specific recipes
- Manipulating dough by rolling, cutting and kneading
- Putting dough in molds and pans
- Ensuring that ingredients used in baked goods are high quality and fresh
The educational path that a baking and pastry professional will want to take depends on their goals. Those who want to get hands-on training quickly in order to find an entry-level job in the kitchen can enroll in a pastry certificate program. Those who want to augment their kitchen training with cooking theory often enroll in online baking degrees at the associate level to accomplish this. Similarly, a bachelor's degree is generally designed for those who eventually want to earn a managerial position or open their own business one day. These programs combine hands-on training with cooking and management theory.
While bakers and pastry chefs are not required to earn certifications, a certification can help these professionals reach their career goals by demonstrating their knowledge and skills to potential employers. The Retail Bakers of America offers certifications for those with different levels of experience. Some of these certifications include certified baker and certified master baker credentials.
Coursework in Online Baking and Pastry Programs
Coursework in online baking and pastry degree programs combines experiential learning with culinary theory in order to teach students how to create mouthwatering desserts and other baked goods while handling the demands of working in the kitchen. The specific classes that can be found in a program depends on the school that students attend, however, the following are examples of courses that can generally be found in these programs.
Baking and pastry techniques
Students in this course gain the basic skills they need to make pastries and use the equipment associated with the production of baked goods. Specific topics that may be covered in this course include baking ingredients and their uses, frozen desserts, chocolates, sauces, meringues, custards and different kinds of dough. In addition, students may learn about techniques such as foaming, creaming and blending. Students may be required to make specific assigned recipes and critique each other's work.
Students in this course learn about pastry and yeast-raised doughs. Coursework includes dough rolling techniques, the use of temperature in making dough, how to make different kinds of bread, and laminated and layered doughs used to make pastries.
Cooking is not just an art; it's a science. This course introduces students to the math skills that are used in the kitchen to calculate recipe conversions. Other topics may include ratios, the metric system, percentages and yield tests. Students may be asked to apply these principles to specific recipes.
This class teaches students how to work with sugar that is blown, poured or pulled to make decorative candies. In addition, students may learn about working with chocolate, making specialty cookies and creating layered wedding cakes. Other topics covered may include using gumpaste, marzipan and pastillage.
Human resource management
Students who are interested in obtaining managerial bakery positions or opening their own business can take this course to learn how to oversee employees. Topics include how to recruit, choose, hire and train employees to ensure that an establishment has the best staff to help business owners meet their goals. In addition, students learn what to do once workers are already hired, including best practices for keeping employees motivated, handling workplace conflict and dealing with disciplinary issues. This course also familiarizes students with the legal issues that they may face as managers and business owners.
Making great tasting bread and beautiful pastries aren't enough to have a successful business: Bakery owners must know how to get customers in the door who will enjoy their products. In this course, those who want to own and operate businesses will learn food promotion techniques that will attract patrons with a sweet tooth. Subjects that are covered include product placement, pricing strategies, market planning, sales promotions and target marketing. To help students understand the concepts in this course, they may be asked to create a marketing campaign for a bakery.
In addition to classwork, students who earn online baking degrees may be required to participate in an internship program, which allows them to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world workplace situations. These internships may take place at bakeries, restaurants, resorts or hotels.
Career Outlook for Professionals With Online Baking and Pastry Degrees
Information compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that job opportunities for bakers will increase by 6 percent between 2012 and 2022, which amounts to 9,400 additional positions. This growth estimate, the agency explains, is based on the fact that while population growth may contribute to an increased demand for baked goods, the growing use of automation to make these products may limit the actual jobs available.
The annual median salary for bakers is $23,600 as of May 2014, according to the BLS.
Bakers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes513011.htm
Bakers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/bakers.htm
Bakers, O*NET, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-3011.00
Major: Baking and Pastry Arts, College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/personal-culinary-services-culinary-arts-related-services-baking-pastry-arts
Baking and Pastry Arts Management Bachelor's Degree, The Culinary Institute of America, http://www.ciachef.edu/baking-and-pastry-arts-bachelors-degree-program-ny/
Baking and Pastry Arts Associate Degree Program, The Culinary Institute of America, http://www.ciachef.edu/baking-and-pastry-arts-associate-degree-program-ca/
Baking and Pastry School Programs, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, http://www.chefs.edu/programs/le-cordon-bleu-patisserie-and-baking-program
Pâtisserie and Baking Certificate Program, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, http://www.chefs.edu/programs/le-cordon-bleu-patisserie-and-baking-program/certificate-in-le-cordon-bleu-patisserie-and-baking
School of Pastry & Baking Arts, Institute of Culinary Education, http://www.ice.edu/career-programs/culinary-arts-pastry-school-baking-school
Baking & Pastry Arts Program, Long Beach City College, http://www.lbcc.edu/baking/
Baking and Pastry Arts, Long Beach City College, http://osca.lbcc.edu/curriculumguides/2015-2016/BAKINGANDPASTRYARTS.pdf
Baking and Pastry, Baker College, http://www.baker.edu/programs-degrees/baking-and-pastry-certificate/