So You Want to Become a Professional Cake Decorator
If you go to baking school or attend a pastry arts program, you’ll most likely encounter one or two students who hope to enter the field of cake decorating. Cake decorating is a design-oriented field that combines basic culinary skills with a flair for creating art—with frosting as both your canvas and your tools.
By definition, a cake decorator is a culinary professional who is trained to create designs on pastries, cakes, and other baked goods. In addition to the frosting that tops the dessert, many cake decorators also work with fillings and baking the cakes themselves. This is especially true if you are considering the career opportunities for bridal and party desserts.
Baking and Pastry Arts Programs
Although it isn’t required to enter the field, most successful cake decorators have a culinary degree or some culinary education training. In a good program, you will not only learn the basics of baking and cooking desserts, but you will gain skills in:
- Blending colors
- Creating shapes out of dessert items
- Using sugar for molding
- Working with chocolate
- Designing cake centerpieces
- Building towers out of cake
- Project planning/Sketching
Degrees vary in length depending on the type of culinary program you choose, but you can expect a training time between 6 months and 2 years, and anything from a certification of completion to an Associate Degree in baking and the pastry arts once you’ve finished.
Where Do Cake Decorators Work?
Cake decorators typically work for (or own) bakeries. By spreading your skill set out to cover both cake decoration and baking other types of pastries and desserts, it is easier to build a long-standing career. These professionals may work in:
- Grocery stores
- Wedding specialty shops
- Catering companies
Because so many bakers work in grocery stores and commercial food production companies, the average annual salary is fairly low at $24,000. However, if you have a true artistic talent and some business acumen, you may be able to work in specialty cakes and wedding cake creation.
And as the popular television show Ace of Cakes shows us, if you are able to reach the top of your field and create a niche for yourself, there are professional opportunities beyond that.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.