Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Iowa

When people think of Iowa, they often think of corn and cattle. While both are popular products of the state, it is also home to Hy-Vee’s headquarters, which are located in West Des Moines. Their bakeries offer premade goodies as well as special order items. As a baking and pastry chef working at the headquarters of a grocer, it’s possible to influence the menus and offerings of multiple locations. Altoona, IA, is home to Adventure Lands of America, an amusement park with several dining options, which also hosts special events. A baking and pastry chef could find a variety of employment opportunities at such a location.

Becoming a baking and pastry chef is a multifaceted venture. In addition to being a creative career, it is important to have an understanding of specific measurements, chemical reactions between ingredients and how flavors work to complement each other. Being a baking and pastry chef requires patience, attention to detail and some artistic talent as well.

Iowa State Requirements for Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef

The state of Iowa does not require any specific education or training to begin working as an entry-level

pastry chef, but most employers prefer candidates who have at least a high school diploma or GED. From that point, there are multiple ways to become a baking and pastry chef. It’s 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 by taking culinary arts and pastry baking courses. Most people who take post-secondary classes typically have a head start at home with baking and creating desserts but need to learn the industry standards, as well as how to finesse their techniques.

Several schools and colleges within Iowa 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 degree program. There is typically financial aid available, including scholarships and student loans.

Educational Programs for Aspiring Baking and Pastry Chefs in Iowa

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

  • Kirkwood Community College. Located in Cedar Rapids, Kirkwood Community College offers a one-year diploma program in Baking and Pastry Arts. Students enrolled in this program may also create baked goods for the Class Act Restaurant at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center.
  • Iowa Central Community College. Located in Fort Dodge, Iowa Central offers a diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts. Students learn basics about the hospitality industry and cost control as well.

Certification of Iowa Baking and Pastry Chefs

The state of Iowa 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. Through the American Culinary Federation, aspiring pastry chefs can also verify the accreditation status of educational programs 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 Iowa

Within the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 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 nationwide. Specific information is not provided for baking and pastry chefs, but they are considered comparable positions to head chefs and included in that category with the BLS. Within the state of Iowa, growth within this field is expected to be approximately 12.6 percent during the ten years from 2018 to 2028. This is a little faster than the national average for this field.

As of May 2018, the median annual salary paid to baking and pastry chefs in Iowa was $38,580. This means that half of the people working as a baking and pastry chefs earned more and half earned less. The hourly mean rate of pay during 2018 was $18.55. Rates tend to be higher in more densely populated areas and areas with greater rates of tourism.

Working as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Iowa

Baking and pastry chefs need to be skilled at working with their hands, including performing repetitive tasks. A career as a pastry chef could be ideal for someone who enjoys being challenged and performing a variety of tasks on a daily basis. Baking and pastry chefs require tolerance of varying temperatures within their workspace between ovens, refrigerators and freezers, as well as the ability to work in positions they may find uncomfortable on be on their feet for a much of their workday. Comfortable shoes are a must, and anti-fatigue mats placed in workspaces are helpful as well.

Opportunities for work as a baking and pastry chef in Iowa can be found with the headquarters of a grocery chain, a bakery, a catering company making desserts for special events, at restaurants and hotels. Higher salaries for this profession could be earned in Davenport, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

Popular Colleges