Professional cake making and decorating is a lucrative field, which allows for much flexibility and creativity. Cake making is an art as well as a practical skill that leaves much room for growth and development. Becoming a professional cake maker usually involves completing a certification program in baking and pastry. Although only a minimum of a high school diploma is necessary for most entry level bakery positions, through which one can gain hands-on baking and decorating experience, degrees and certifications from culinary schools are required for more competitive baking and decorating positions.
Seek entry level employment at a supermarket or independent bakery to gain experience in the baking and pastry industry. This will help you gain a realistic perspective, as well as basic skills in cake making and decorating. It is important to cement your interest in the baking and pastry field before investing in a culinary degree or certification program.
Research culinary schools and baking and pastry certification programs that are commensurate with your education and skill level. Prior bakery experience will make you more competitive to gain admission into baking and pastry culinary programs. A Certified Journey Baker (CJB), for example, requires at least one year of retail baking experience, while a Certified Master Baker (CMB) requires a Certified Baker (CB) certification plus four years of professional retail experience.
Complete the appropriate culinary degree or certification program for your interests and career ambitions. Certification courses cover topics such as baking principles, nutrition concepts, mixing and preparation, classic and contemporary cake designs, bakery sanitation and merchandising.
Gain new or graduated employment opportunities commensurate with your new culinary baking credentials. Obtain the appropriate state and local licenses to practice cake and pastry making, whether you are operating within a company or going into business for yourself.
If you want to establish a cake making enterprise or gain higher end employment in the cake industry, offer to make and design cakes for a personal network of friends and relatives at a discount. This will help build your profile and portfolio.
Looking at cakes at other people's events, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and corporate parties can help you gain perspective and insight on how to develop your own cake making skills. Network with other professional cake makers at these events, if possible.
Do not expect a high salary in the early stages of a cake making career. The average salary is an estimated $30,000 per year; but can increase to more than $60,000 per year with further education, certificates and experience.