Pastry chefs create, decorate and present delectable desserts, cakes, pastries and pies to customers in fine-dining restaurants, grocery stores and at weddings or anniversary parties. They also order ingredients and supplies for their restaurants or catering businesses, hire employees to assist them and maintain records of sales and expenses. Pastry chefs often work long hours on their feet in hot kitchens. They earn salaries averaging more than $40,000 annually.
Salary and Benefits:
In 2013, the average salary for a pastry chef was $43,000, according to the job site Indeed. Full-time pastry chefs may get health and life insurance, paid time off and retirement payment plans. They also receive career placement services from their colleges and universities, financial aid and tuition reimbursement when they take courses or pursue additional degrees.
Forty-six percent of all chefs, including pastry chefs, worked in full-service restaurants as of 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes fine dining establishments. Pastry chefs usually often work 12-hour days, spending many hours on their feet in hot, crowded kitchens. They arrive at work in the early morning hours to prepare the pastries and receive shipments, and spend late afternoon or early evening hours planning the next day's menu items. The occasional cuts, scrapes and burns are some of the primary job hazards, but injuries are rarely serious.
In 2013, average salaries for pastry chefs varied within the four U.S. regions. In the South region, they earned the most in Washington, D.C., and least in Louisiana at $51,000 and $37,000, respectively. Those in the Midwest made $32,000 in South Dakota and Nebraska and $47,000 in Illinois, respectively, which were the lowest and highest earnings in the Midwest. Pastry chefs earned $37,000 to $52,000 in the Northeast -- with the lowest salaries in Maine and highest in New York. In the West, they made the least in Hawaii and most in California at $28,000 and $47,000 per year, respectively.
The BLS predicts flat employment growth for chefs and cooks, including pastry chefs, through 2020 -- well below the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. Cost-cutting in restaurants may eliminate some jobs for pastry chefs, as cooks or other chefs assume their responsibilities. Most of the job growth for chefs, including pastry chefs, will stem from retired workers or those who leave the industry.