Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Michigan

Baking and the pastry arts are careers that you may enjoy if you love making food for people, working with your hands and using your creativity. This career requires the use of detailed recipes and specific measurements, but it also has a lot of room for creating new products and for using art and design. You may be responsible for making desserts but also designing menus and supervising other workers.

Growth in the culinary arts industry is strong throughout the U.S. and in Michigan. Opportunities at pastry shops, restaurants, catering businesses, hotels and other locations are numerous. You do need to have some training to work as a baking and pastry chef, though. Either earn a post-secondary certificate or degree or train on the job to be ready in a couple of years or less to land your first job.

Requirements for Pastry Chefs in Michigan

The state doesn’t actually have any requirements for education, training or licensing for baking and pastry chefs. But, in order to get started in the industry you should have at a minimum a high school degree or GED.

Next, you’ll need to train and learn how to work as a pastry chef. You can do this by completing a post-secondary culinary arts program with a focus on baking and pastry. Alternatively, you can find a chef willing to train you. The latter option will allow you to earn at least a small salary while training to become a pastry chef. Expect to start at the bottom, maybe even washing dishes, and to work your way up to a higher position.

Michigan Culinary Schools with Programs for Baking and Pastry Chefs

Earning a degree or certificate is a good way to start a career as a pastry chef. A program at a community or career college will provide you with foundational knowledge in baking and pastry and provide hands-on practice. Michigan has several options, two of which include:

  • Culinary Institute of Michigan, Baker College, Port Huron, Muskegon. With two campus options, you can earn a two-year associate’s degree in baking and pastry in the location of your choice. The degree program consists of 60 credit hours, 48 of which are related to baking and pastry. The program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission.
  • Henry Ford College, Dearborn. In the Detroit area you can choose the baking and pastry program at Henry Ford. The school offers a certificate of achievement as well as degrees in general culinary arts. Here you’ll learn in the classroom and by working in the campus restaurant.

Getting Certified in Baking and Pastry Chefs

Certification is not required by the state of Michigan, but many employers prefer to hire or will only hire baking and pastry chefs with these credentials. The most widely recognized certifications in the industry are those offered by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF offers certifications for pastry cook, pastry culinarian, working pastry chef, executive pastry chef and master pastry chef. To achieve certification, you must pass a test and have the required number of educational hours.

Salary and Career Outlook in Michigan

Nationwide, baking and pastry chefs earn an average salary of $48,460 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports average hourly rates of $23.30 and salaries of $81,150 per year for the highest-earning chefs. For Michigan chefs, the average annual salary is $52,230, higher than the national average.

Job growth in the industry is 11 percent across the U.S. This is faster than average job growth for all industries. Michigan is nearly keeping up with a growth rate of 9.9 percent. Approximately 460 new positions for qualified baking and pastry chefs are expected to be available each year in the state.

Beginning a Pastry Career in Michigan

With strong job growth in the industry, landing your first job shouldn’t be difficult. Increase your chances of being hired by earning a degree and working toward ACF certification. Most opportunities will be in and around the state’s population centers of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Ann Arbor. Most pastry chefs are hired by restaurants, but also look for jobs at bakeries and grocery stores, hotels, hospitals, retirement communities and catering companies.

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