Cake Designer Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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

Although many employers hire cake designers, or decorators, to work behind the scenes, these individuals play a role in the memorable events in others' lives, whether customers know who decorated their cake or not. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of a career as a cake decorator.

Pros of a Cake Decorator Career
You may find a job in a bakery with a high school diploma*
A variety of industries hire cake decorators, including retail stores, restaurants and large scale production bakeries*
Cake decorators play an indirect role in the special events in many people's lives, including weddings and birthdays*
A creative career field*

Cons of a Cake Decorator Career
Employment of bakers is expected to grow only 6% from 2012 - 2022*
A cake decorator may work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends*
Cake decorators may work part-time, requiring a secondary source of income**
Work conditions may include tight deadlines, which can be stressful*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **April 2012 job postings.

Career Information

A cake decorator is responsible for designing and decorating another baker's finished product. They use fondant, frosting and fillings to construct and decorate cakes for events, in restaurants or at individuals' homes. A cake decorator, like other bakers, may work in the early mornings or late night hours, weekends and holidays.

Salary Information

The BLS does not differentiate cake decorators from other types of professional bakers. In 2014, the median annual salary for a baker was $23,600 per year. Professional bakers in the bottom ten percent earned less than $17,570, while those in the top ten percent earned over $37,580 annually. The highest paying employers were water transportation companies, state government and local government.

Career Skills and Requirements

A cake decorator should have a steady hand and good eyesight, patience and the ability to work quickly. These professionals should be comfortable using special machinery to create decorations and be able to lift at least 50 pounds on occasion.

What Are Employers Looking for?

When it comes to hiring cake decorators, employers seek professionals who can learn as they go, work as a team member and perform duties accurately and quickly. The following are cake decorator job postings available in April 2012:

  • A Pennsylvania bakery seeks a trained, experienced cake decorator to create custom wedding cakes and other specialty products. This candidate must have 3-5 years of experience and be a quick learner as the business has a fast-paced environment.
  • A North Carolina company seeks a cake decorator with knowledge of cake decorating, icings and use of sugar flowers as decorations. While this person will decorate cakes, the job includes training for the bakery and deli departments.
  • An Arkansas cake design and decorating company seeks a cake decorator with experience who knows how to meet deadlines. This person will work with a variety of departments to create sample cakes for retail customers.
  • A Pennsylvania specialty market seeks a cake decorator to decorate cakes, tarts and pastries and to help with production of various baked goods. This individual must be able to lift 50 pounds or more and work a flexible schedule.

How to Beat the Competition

There are multiple ways to stand out from the crowd, whether you gain experience in a college culinary arts program or pursue certifications from professional organizations. Read on to learn more.

Earn a Culinary Arts Degree

Some colleges offer diploma, certificate or associate degree programs in culinary arts. In these programs, you'll learn about a variety of culinary skills including cake baking and decorating. You'll take courses in baking theory, sanitation and food safety, and learn to create a variety of baked goods. In some programs, you'll have an opportunity to work with professionals in cooperative work experience programs. The length of time for completion depends on the program you choose.

Earn Professional Certification

The Retail Baker's Association offers a variety of professional certifications from the journey-level baker to a certified master baker. The organization also offers a certified decorator credential. To earn the certified decorator credential, you'll have to create decorations in several categories, including wedding cakes, sculpted cakes and custom design cakes. You'll also have to show your technique using rolled fondant, flowers and sprays.

Alternative Career Options

If you're sure that you want to work with food, but you'd rather make breakfast, lunch or dinner entrees, consider a career as a cook. There are many different types of cooks, including restaurant cooks or institutional cooks. Each position usually requires on-the-job training, and certification is available through the American Culinary Federation. The BLS reports that restaurant cooks earned a median annual salary of $23,400 in 2011. During the same year, institutional cooks earned a median annual salary of about $22,700.

If you'd prefer to have some control over the kitchen and work on the business-side of things, consider a job as a food service manager. These professionals keep track of inventory, interview and train employees, schedule employees to work and resolve complaint issues. Food service managers also track budgets and payroll. To begin in food service, you typically need nothing more than a high school diploma. Hiring of food service managers is expected to decline by three percent from 2010 to 2020. Food service managers earned a median annual salary of $48,100 in May 2011, according to the BLS.

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