Pastry chefs design, bake, fill and frost a variety of pastries and desserts such as cakes, pies, croissants and tarts. While the position may seem idyllic at first glance, pastry chefs typically work long hours in a stressful environment and tend to earn less than some other types of chefs. To get started in the career, you often only need a high school diploma, although higher education can help.
Chef Pay Comparisons
Pastry chef positions vary widely in pay, depending on your experience and skills. A pastry cook or an assistant pastry chef, with little or no experience may earn $30,000 to $42,000 per year in 2017. A pastry chef with experience earns on average $48,000. Someone more skilled, with the title of executive pastry chef could earn $63,000 on average.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not monitor chef wages by specialty, however in 2016, it found that the median annual wage for chefs and head cooks was $43,180, based on approximately 127,500 positions. The top 10 percent of chefs earned more than $76,280, while the lowest 10 percent earned below $23,630.
Experience Pay Scale
A 2010 survey showed that pastry chef earnings was highly affected by experience. In that year, pastry chefs earned an average of $28,333 during their first year on the job. Pastry chefs who had been working in the position for between five and eight years reported earning 32 percent more. Those with nine to 12 years of experience earned nearly double the amount of a first-year chef and those with 21 to 25 years experience earned nearly three times the first-year average.
Other Factors Affecting Pay
Pastry chefs tend to earn different wages depending on where they work. Pastry chefs working at restaurants generally earn a few thousand dollars less than those working in hotels. A pastry chef working in a casino could earn much more. For example, an executive pastry chef employed by a casino would, on average, earn more than $90,000 per year.
A job as a pastry chef can entail a high degree of freedom to create the types of dishes you really want to make. Working conditions can be tiring. Pastry chefs work an average of 10 hours per workday and an average of 55 hours per week. Kitchens can be hot and meeting deadlines can be stressful. In addition, many pastry chefs find that they need to work late into the night or start very early in the morning to get certain items cooked in a timely fashion.
2016 Salary Information for Chefs and Head Cooks
Chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $43,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, chefs and head cooks earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $59,080, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 146,500 people were employed in the U.S. as chefs and head cooks.