Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Montana

The state of Montana has a healthy hospitality industry. Home to several casinos as well as Big Sky Resort, Chico Hot Springs Resort and Iron Horse Golf Club, to name a few. In addition to multiple restaurants on site, Big Sky Resort offers catering for private events and weddings. Chico Hot Springs Resort offers multiple dining styles, from family-friendly to private dining, with creative menus for each. These locations and others like them may offer a variety of potential positions for a baking and pastry chef.

To become a pastry chef, there are a few things to consider. While it can be a very fun career, it is also demanding both mentally and physically. Baking and pastry chefs are on their feet for several hours at a time and can work long shifts to finish a project for a client. Thinking quickly and being able to solve problems will be to your advantage. As a baking and pastry chef, you would have the opportunity to showcase your creativity and artistic skills with pastries and desserts as well as come up with interesting and unique texture and flavor combinations.

State Requirements for Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Montana

In Montana, a state license is not required to become a baking and pastry chef, nor are there specific state requirements in regard to education. However, many employers prefer that their employees be certified by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). In order to be certified by the ACF, formal education is required. There are several schools that offer programs that teach students proper culinary techniques along with the business skills and specific pastry techniques, with certificate programs taking about a year to complete and associate degree programs taking about two years. Financial aid is often available to qualifying students.

In order to become established as a baking and pastry chef, a commitment of 5 or more years is required on average. It is possible to begin as a host/hostess in a restaurant and work your way up, learning as you go to become a baking and pastry chef, or it is possible to begin the journey by taking culinary arts and pastry baking courses.

Education Opportunities for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Montana

Within most formal baking and pastry programs, students will learn the basics of food safety and the skills to run a restaurant or bakery, as well as what it takes to create delicious, visually appealing desserts. Some pastry chef programs available in Montana are:

  • University of Montana. Located in Missoula, the Big Sky Culinary Institute at the University of Montana offers a three-semester certificate program in Culinary Arts and is soon to add a Baking and Pastry AAS program as well.
  • Flathead Valley Community College. Located in Kalispell, the Culinary Institute of Montana offers an AAS in Culinary Arts. Upon completion, interested students are able to enroll in an Advanced Baking and Pastry certificate program.

Certification for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Montana

While there is no state license required to become a baking and pastry chef in Montana, certification from the American Culinary Federation can provide better opportunities. Within the ACF certification program there are six levels of certification, each having its own required continuing education courses and exam. The ACF also allows students to verify the accreditation status of programs available to them as well as open apprenticeships. A baking and pastry chef may want to join professional networking association, such as Pastry Chefs of America, which hosts events and allows pastry chefs further opportunities to connect with others within their field.

Salary Outlook and Job Opportunities for Baking and Pastry Chefs in Montana

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, within the United States, the field of head chefs and cooks is expected to grow by a rate of approximately 11 percent, which is much faster than average growth for a career. Specific information is not provided for baking and pastry chefs, as these positions are considered similar and are included in the category of head chefs.

Within the state of Montana, growth the field is expected to be approximately 12.5 percent during the ten years between 2018 and 2028, a bit faster than the national average, and is a reflection of the busy hospitality industry in the state.

Nationwide, the median annual salary paid to baking and pastry chefs as of May 2018 was $45,640. This means that half of all the people working as pastry chefs earned more than that amount, while half earned less. The hourly mean rate of pay for this field during 2018 was $23.30. Within the state of Montana, the median numbers are just a bit lower. The median annual salary paid to a baking and pastry chef was $43,040, while the median hourly rate was $20.69.

Finding Work as a Baking and Pastry Chef in Montana

As a baking and pastry chef, being able to communicate well with clients is a priceless skill. Your talents will get you the job, but solid people skills and business acumen will help you keep it. Delivering clients’ orders in a visually appealing manner, tastefully and within their budget is expected. Since there will be multiple clients and simultaneous orders to be filled, being able to track and manage each project is essential as well. As with any other job, being flexible and able to adapt well to change are assets to a baking and pastry chef.

In Montana, there are many employment options within the hospitality industry, but it is also possible to run your own business. Jobs can be found with hotels, spas or restaurants, catering desserts for special events, or running your own patisserie or dessert catering business. Higher salaries for this profession could potentially be earned within the areas of Billings, Missoula and the southwest portion of the state.

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