How to Become a Baking and Pastry Chef in Alabama

Alabama is known for peanut farming, several civil rights landmarks as well as its beaches, but it’s also home to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where such legendary performers as Etta James and Aretha Franklin recorded vocals. Alabama is also where you can find the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, which includes a planetarium and offers space camp experiences. This varied mix of attractions allows for quite a range of opportunities to work as a baking and pastry chef, such as in a restaurant within a beach resort or catering desserts for a special event.

Choosing to become a baking and pastry chef requires a specific skill set. In addition to being creative, it is important to have an understanding of flavors, ingredients and how they work to complement each other. Being a baking and pastry chef requires patience, attention to detail and some artistic talent as well.

Alabama State Requirements for Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef

Several schools and colleges within Alabama offer programs that teach students food safety procedures, business skills and specific baking and pastry techniques. Programs can vary in length but tend to average about a year for certificate programs or roughly two years for an associate’s degree program. There is typically financial aid available, including scholarships and student loans.

There are multiple ways to become a baking and pastry chef. It is possible to begin as a dishwasher in a restaurant and work up through the ranks to becoming a baking and pastry chef, or you can begin with taking culinary arts and pastry baking courses. Most people who begin with an educational training program typically have a start at home with baking and creating desserts but then need to learn the industry standards as well as how to finesse their techniques.

Educational Opportunities for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Alabama

To be considered for the best jobs available as a baking and pastry chef, completing an educational program with hands-on training is required. Students will learn the details of running a restaurant or bakery and what it takes to create delicious, visually appealing desserts. Two of the baking and pastry chef programs available in Alabama are:

  • Coastal Alabama Community College. Located in Bay Minette, there are options to earn either a certificate or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Pastry Baking. The AAS is built around the culinary arts program with an emphasis in pastry baking.
  • Jefferson State Community College. Located in Birmingham, there are options to enroll in a pastry baking certificate program or to earn an AAS degree in culinary arts with an emphasis in pastry baking. An advanced certificate in pastry baking can also be earned concurrently while earning an AAS degree.

Certification of Baking and Pastry Chefs in Alabama

The state of Alabama does not require a license to become a baking and pastry chef, but certification from the American Culinary Federation can lead the way to better opportunities. There are six levels of certification, each with its own requirements, including continuing education courses and an exam. Via the American Culinary Federation, students can also verify the accreditation status of programs available to them as well as find open apprenticeships. A baking and pastry chef may also join professional networking associations, such as Pastry Chefs of America.

Job Opportunities and Salary Outlook for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Alabama

Within the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of head chef and cooks, a category that includes baking and pastry chefs, is expected to grow by a rate of approximately 11 percent, which is much faster than average job growth. Within the state of Alabama, growth within this field is expected to be approximately 11 percent during the decade between 2018 and 2028. This is in line with the national average.

The median annual salary paid to baking and pastry chefs in Alabama as of May 2018 was $47,030. This means that half of all the people who worked as a baking and pastry chef earned more and half earned less. The hourly mean rate of pay during 2018 was $22.61. Rates tend to be higher in more densely populated areas.

Working as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Alabama

Baking and pastry chefs need to be adept at working with their hands. A career as a baking and pastry chef could be ideal for someone who enjoys being challenged and performing a variety of tasks. Baking and pastry chefs require tolerance of varying temperatures within their workspace, and the ability to work in positions they may find uncomfortable for a much of their workday. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Opportunities for work as a baking and pastry chef in Alabama can be found with a beachside resort, a bakery, catering desserts for special events, at restaurants and even museum cafes, such as Café M at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Higher salaries for this profession could be earned in Birmingham, the Montgomery Metro area and the wouthwest portion of the state.

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