Cake Decorator Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a cake decorator career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a cake decorator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Cake Decorating Career

Cake decorators primarily design and decorate cakes; however, because cake decorators work in large retail locations, such as grocery stores, they could also take on the role of a baker, preparing a variety of desserts and baked goods. You can learn other pros and cons to being a cake decorator by reading below.

Pros of a Cake Decorating Career
A high school diploma is often a sufficient amount of education*
Population and income growth expected to increase demand for specialty baked goods*
Experience could be acquired through on-the-job training*
Artistic ability is an important quality for employment as a painting and coating worker*

Cons of a Cake Decorating Career
May stand for an extended period of time, over 8-10 hours*
Slower-than-average job growth for bakers, a group that can also include cake decorators (6% from 2012-2022)*
Risk of injury from working with hot ovens or lifting heavy items*
May be required to work early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Duties

As a cake decorator, you will spend your days not only decorating and designing cakes but you might also be responsible for baking the cakes. Cake decorators are responsible for working with customers to take orders and ensure that they are happy with their purchase. In their job, cake decorators will prepare and apply icings and other toppings, design cakes and even create displays. As a cake decorator, you need to practice food safety, know how to combine ingredients and also be comfortable working with a number of kitchen tools and equipment.

Salary and Job Growth Information

PayScale.com reported in July 2015 that most people employed as cake decorators earned between about $18,000-$41,000 annually. According to the most recent data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth of bakers was projected to experience an anticipated job growth of 6% from 2012-2022.

The slower job growth for bakers, an occupation that can also encompass cake decorators, reported by the BLS could be attributed to technological advancements in machinery that mass produces bakery items in place of hand-made products.

What are the Requirements?

Education Requirements

Employers often require a high school diploma for cake decorating jobs. However, many cake decorators earn their position through on-the-job experience, where they can learn to bake and decorate cakes as well as other desserts. For those without experience, cake decorating certificate programs are available. In the process of completing a certificate program you can gain some of the experience you'll need, such as learning how to work with decorating mediums, including gum paste, royal icing and butter cream. You could also learn techniques for decorating and designing cakes.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Because cake decorators often work in large retail locations, you should be willing to create and design an assortment of baked goods. Employers typically require you to have mathematical skills so you can correctly handle monetary transactions and measure ingredients. Many potential employers list great customer skills as one of their requirements. Below are just a few job posting samples for cake decorators in April 2012:

  • A retail grocer in Texas is looking for a full-time cake decorator to create eye-catching designs on their baked goods. Requirements include at least one year of experience in cake decorating, and the ability to meet the physical demands of the job and practice effective communication with customers.
  • A grocery chain in Washington, D.C., advertised for a cake decorator with a high school diploma or three months experience. In addition, the selected candidate must be willing to participate in company training to learn about food handling, customer service and to become familiar with the products that the store carries.
  • A restaurant and bakery in California is looking for a cake decorator to create and design wedding and other specialty cakes. Those interested should have at least five years of experience and must be willing to work weekends.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Although a high school diploma and experience may be enough to land you a job as a cake decorator, to be more employable or advance your career you might consider becoming certified by the Retail Bakers of America (RBA). Through the RBA, you can become a certified decorator by successfully completing a sanitation course, having a minimum of four years experience in the field and passing an exam administered by the RBA.

Because many employers are looking for someone with knowledge of how to prepare food safely, you might consider earning a certificate in food handling or preparation so that you can learn the basics of food sanitation as well as baking and nutrition. Participating in a food preparation certificate program might also give you the opportunity to gain experience through an internship in the culinary arts.

Other Careers to Consider

Chef

If you'd still like to work in the food industry but cake decorating doesn't sound like the right fit for you, you might consider becoming a chef. Much like a career in cake decorating, being a chef typically only requires a high school diploma and experience within the field.

Chefs spend their time supervising the kitchen staff and taking responsibility for the daily menu and food preparation. Because customers dine at restaurants during a variety of times, chefs typically work early in the day through the late evening and may even work weekends and holidays. Like cake decorators, chefs stand for long periods of time and risk being injured by kitchen tools and machines.

The BLS reported in May of 2011 that the median annual salary for chefs and head cooks was about $42,000, which is significantly more than the approximate yearly earnings of $17,000-$33,000 that PayScale.com reported for cake decorators. However, the BLS anticipates a 1% job decline for chefs and head cooks from 2010-2020.

Food Preparation Worker

If you're looking for a job that is a little more low-key than a career as a cake decorator or even a chef, you could pursue a career as a food preparation worker. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for food preparation workers in May 2011 was about $19,000. For this type of job, you might not even need your high school diploma because you could learn the necessary skills through on-the-job training.

Food preparation workers spend their time in the kitchen completing routine tasks assigned by the chefs, such as chopping vegetables or preparing beverages. The job growth for a food preparation worker is significantly better than that of a baker or chef. The BLS reports that there is expected to be a 10% increase in jobs from 2010-2020.

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