How to Become a Baking and Pastry Chef in Illinois

Some people have a knack for creating appealing and delicious baked goods. If you’re one of these people, or if you’ve always wanted to learn what it takes to make cookies, cakes, donuts, bread and other baked goods, consider a career as a baking and pastry chef in Illinois.

The skills needed to be a baking and pastry chef are similar to those of a baker but can be more complex. Your role will fall into the category of head chef, and you’ll have additional responsibilities over and above the creation of baked goods. You may also be in charge of ordering supplies, making a budget, supervising staff and creating new recipes.

Requirements for Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Illinois

The first thing you’ll need to do to become an Illinois baking and pastry chef is earn a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many employers and specialized training programs require this as a bare minimum. Attending formal culinary arts training isn’t a requirement but can teach you valuable skills and make you more appealing to potential employers. Other skills may be learned on the job or by working closely with an experienced pastry chef.

Formal Training in Illinois

Formal training programs for baking and pastry chefs are offered in community colleges, vocational schools and schools that specialize in culinary art. These programs will give you a foundation for baking, creating and decorating pastries and breads at a professional level. Examples of training programs in this field in Illinois include:

  • The French Pastry School. World class pastry is taught at this school in Chicago by master chefs. Classes focus on artistry, theory, technique and visual presentation. Students practice hundreds of techniques and recipes, and the course lasts 20 weeks. Specialized courses are also offered in bread baking and cakes.
  • Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. Located at Louis University in Chicago, this college offers an Associate in Applied Science in Baking and Pastry as well as certificate programs in baking and pastry or culinary arts. Students get hands-on experience using industrial equipment in state-of-the art kitchens. Students also learn business and food service principles.

Certification or Licensing of Pastry Chefs in Illinois

In Illinois, you don’t have to attain certification or get a license to work as a pastry chef. However, you still may want to consider obtaining optional certification. The American Culinary Federation offers several certifications, which can be attained by passing both written and practical exams.

Job and Salary Potential for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Illinois

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, head chefs made a median wage of $48,460 in 2018. This means that about half of all head chefs made more than this salary and half made less. Your earnings potential can vary based on where you work. reports that the average pastry chef in Illinois earns $55,196 per year as of November 2019, and salary ranges from $48,798 to $78,647.

Job growth for head chefs in Illinois looks very promising. CareerOneStop estimates growth of approximately 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is even higher than national expected growth in this field, which is predicted to be approximately 11 percent between 2018 and 2028.

Working as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Illinois

There are many settings where you might find employment as a baking and pastry chef in Illinois. Restaurants, bakeries, cafes and hospitals are just a few examples. If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur, you might be able to open your own business selling baked goods.

It’s a career that’s likely to be fast paced. Early mornings are frequently required, and there’s a good chance you’ll work evenings or weekends or both. Large cities such as Chicago, Aurora and Rockford have a wide variety of career opportunities for pastry chefs, and your skills will be in demand all over the state of Illinois.

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