How to Become a Baking and Pastry Chef in Colorado

Colorado is known for world-class skiing and breathtaking mountain and desert scenery, but there are several famous restaurants and food-centered businesses as well. With corporate headquarters for Baker’s Square and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory located in Colorado, a baking and pastry chef might even have the opportunity to influence the menus for multiple locations.

Choosing to become a baking and pastry chef allows you to use your creativity, but it is also important to have an understanding of flavors, ingredients and how they complement each other. Being a baking and pastry chef requires a steady hand, attention to detail and excellent communication skills to get those ideas across successfully to customers. Chemistry is an important part of this profession as well.

Colorado State Requirements for Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef

Several schools and colleges within Colorado 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 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 it is possible to begin with taking culinary arts and pastry baking courses. Most people who begin with school typically have a start at home with baking and creating desserts, but need to learn the industry standards as well as how to finesse their techniques. Regardless of the avenue that is chosen, it is likely to take a commitment of several years to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a certified baking and pastry chef.

Educational Opportunities for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Colorado

To be considered for the best jobs available as a baking and pastry chef, completing an education program with very specific training is required. Students will learn the details of running their own business as well as what it takes to create delicious, visually appealing desserts. Some baking and pastry chef programs available in Colorado are:

  • Escoffier. Located in Boulder, it is considered to be within the top 22 of culinary schools in America. There is a Pastry Arts diploma program that encompasses entrepreneurship, business, baking, classic pastry skills and even frozen desserts.
  • Johnson & Wales University. Located in Denver, a two-year Baking and Pastry associate’s degree program is available, with the option to continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management.

Certification of Baking and Pastry Chefs in Colorado

The state of Colorado 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 Colorado

Within the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of head chef and cooks is expected to grow by a rate of approximately 11 percent, which is much faster than average job growth. Specific information is not provided for baking and pastry chefs, but they are considered comparable positions. Within the state of Colorado, growth within this field is expected to be approximately 24.5 percent during the ten years between 2018 and 2028. This is likely due to significantly increased tourism within the state. In 2017, Colorado hosted 86 million visitors, who spent about $1.28 billion, stimulating the local economy.

The median annual salary paid to baking and pastry chefs in Colorado as of May 2018 was $49,830. 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 $23.96. Rates tend to be higher in more densely populated areas.

Working as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Colorado

A baking and pastry chef should enjoy being challenged and performing a variety of tasks but must also be willing to repeat several tasks as well. Creating designs for pastries is one step, but executing the decoration of dozens of them is where the repetition comes in. Baking and pastry chefs need to be flexible and adapt to varying temperatures within their workspace. They also require the ability to work in positions they may find uncomfortable for a much of their workday. It is essential to have good problem-solving skills as well.

Some opportunities for work as a baking and pastry chef in Colorado can be found with ski resorts, running a business where they are catering desserts for special events, working at restaurants and at spa locations. Higher salaries for this profession could be earned in the Colorado Springs and Boulder Metro areas.

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