How to Become a Baking and Pastry Chef in Arkansas
Baking and pastry chefs make dessert items such as cakes, cupcakes, custards, pies, souffles and tortes. They may also bake bread, donuts and croissants. A baking and pastry chef must have culinary skills and some level of creativity. Most importantly, they should be able to pay great attention to detail, because their work requires a lot of precision.
In addition to baking and decorating, a baking and pastry chef has many other responsibilities. These include ordering or purchasing supplies and ingredients and making sure that all food items used are fresh. They are also responsible for creating and trying out new recipes. If they work in a restaurant where a full menu is offered, they work closely with the executive chef to plan the menu. They may also oversee a staff and have financial responsibilities like keeping a budget.
Steps to Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Arkansas
As far as certification or licensure goes, the state of Arkansas doesn’t have any specific guidelines when it comes to working as a baking and pastry chef. If you choose to take any formal education in culinary arts, or to work in the field, you will need to have at minimum a high school diploma or a GED.
Since the work of a baking and pastry chef is so precise, some training is required. There are many ways you can go about receiving this training. You can either train while on the job, work as an apprentice under an experienced chef or complete a culinary arts program that specializes in baking and pastry arts at a post-secondary institution. You will also need to be familiar and comply with the local and state food service industry regulations.
Educational Programs in Arkansas
For students who want formal training in baking and pastry arts, there are a few programs in the state that specialize in this. Here is an overview of a couple of them:
- The University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College. This school has a unique Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute Baking and Pastry Program. This program covers every degree of pastry such as chocolates, candies, desserts, cake decorating and artisan bread. Students will learn both modern and classic techniques. Available certificates and degrees include a Certificate of Proficiency in Basic Baking, Basic Pastry and Cake Decorating, a Technical Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. The proficiency programs focus on basic techniques and are comprised of 15 credits that can be completed in two semesters. The technical certificate includes general education classes and consists of 30 credit hours that can be completed in two semesters. The degree program includes both basic and advanced baking and pastry techniques, cake decorating and general education courses. This program is 60 credit hours that can be completed in four semesters or two years.
- Northwest Arkansas Community College. Northwest Arkansas offers students the option of getting an Associate of Applied Science degree in Food Studies with a focus on Baking and Pastry Arts. This program is made up of general ed courses and specific program courses and includes an internship. The program consists of 60 credit hours that usually take two years to complete.
Baking and Pastry Chef Certifications
Certification is an option that you may want to consider if you are planning to run your own bakery. This is also a very ambitious job field, so you should do anything you can do to make yourself stand out from others in the field, including becoming certified.
The certifying agency that most chefs utilize is the American Culinary Federation (ACF). There are six certifications that a baking and pastry chef can obtain through the ACF. These are: Certified Fundamentals Pastry Cook (CFPC), Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC), Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC), Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) and Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC). You must pass both a written test and a skills test to become certified.
Salary and Job Growth Data in Arkansas
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the agency that reports employment numbers and salary averages both nationally and by the state for all job fields. Baking and pastry chefs fall under that BLS category of chefs and head cooks. In the state of Arkansas, chefs and head cooks make an average annual salary of $45,780, or $22.01 hourly.
As far as the number of employees in the state, according to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), there were 800 chefs and head cooks working in Arkansas in 2016. That number is predicted to see a 13.8 percent increase to 910 by the year 2026. This is well above the national growth rate of 9.6 percent for this field overall.
Working as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Arkansas
As a baking and pastry chef, you can expect to be employed in hotels, bakeries, restaurants and country clubs, to name several places. Or you may opt to run a baking business from home or open your own bakery or café.
There are employment opportunities throughout the state in this career, but you’ll likely have the most luck with employment in some of the more populated cities such as Little Rock and Conway. Texarkana is one of the highest paying cities in the state for baking and pastry chefs.
With the right training and certification, if you choose, you’ll be on your way to working as a baking and pastry chef in Arkansas in very little time.