If you have already have a passion for food, and a talent in the kitchen, a career as a pastry chef may appeal to your creative side. Pastry chefs design and bake delicious pastries and desserts for bakeries, restaurants and hotels. Be prepared to make relatively little at first, but your salary should increase over time.
According to a salary survey conducted by StarChefs, baking and pastry chefs reported an average starting salary of $28,333 per year as of 2010. While this may seem like low pay for a chef, consider that sous-chefs and chef de cuisines reported average starting salaries of $25,000 the same year. Pastry chefs at all levels of experience reported an average salary of $47,024 in 2010.
Experience Pay Scale for Pastry Chefs
While they may start out at an average of $28,333 per year, average pay in this occupation tends to increase year by year. Those with between two and four years of experience averaged $33,500 in 2010, and pastry chefs with between five and eight years brought home an average annual paycheck of $37,466. You may be able to earn even more if you stick with it for decades: StarChefs reports that pastry chefs with between 21 and 25 years of experience earned an average salary of $68,000.
Other Contributing Factors
Several factors other than experience help determine the expected salary for a pastry chef. According to StarChefs, pastry chefs in states such as California and New York averaged over $50,000 a year in 2010, while those working in New Jersey averaged just $32,500. Type of employer is another contributing factor, with pastry chefs at stand-alone restaurants averaging $43,123, compared with $46,547 for those who worked for hotels or caterers and $61,611 for those employed by country clubs. Also notable is that women are paid considerably less than men, and averaged $38,548 in 2010 -- just 73 percent of the $52,713 averaged by male pastry chefs.
As of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects chefs, including pastry chefs, to face a tough job market. Jobs for chefs are actually expected to decline slightly between 2010 and 2020, with an estimated loss of about 800 jobs. Those who do find work can expect to work long hours: according to the 2010 StarChefs salary survey, the average pastry chef worked 10 hours a day and 55 hours per week. However, long hours are a double-edged sword that contributes to high rates of turnover in the industry, creating job openings and giving new pastry chefs a chance to earn their chops.
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