How Much Money Do Pastry Chefs Typically Make?

So you think being a pastry chef sounds like a sweet and satisfying career? You're right! Pastry chefs get to flex their culinary creativity and artistry, often in exciting and glamorous settings like high-end restaurants, hotels, or resorts. They also enjoy the satisfaction of making people very, very happy — because who doesn't love dessert?

According to Le Cordon Bleu, pastry chefs have a variety of responsibilities. These include creating new recipes for desserts and other baked items, often conferring with executive chefs to develop creations that complement the menu as a whole. It's not all glamour and sugar. The pastry chef is also charged with planning, budgeting, purchasing, and keeping inventory in their department. Pastry chefs can work alone, which is common in a small restaurant, or oversee a team of other professional pastry chefs and assistants. A pastry chef must also be a visionary, staying current with broader consumer tastes while also meeting — or, ideally, setting — new trends.

An important note: Pastry chefs and bakers often share similar skills and use many of the same ingredients. But despite the overlap, these jobs are not exactly the same. Usually, bakers produce goods en masse to be sold in a retail environment, whereas pastry chefs tend to design, decorate, and serve their creations at a specific location.

Salaries vary with responsibilities and region

How much do pastry chefs earn? It largely depends on the environment and the level of responsibility.

According to, the average salary for pastry chefs in the United States is $58,128, but pastry chefs can expect to earn anywhere between $50,333 and $82,815. Factors like education, certifications, and experience can all influence how much a pastry chef makes.

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts notes that an executive pastry chef who oversees teams of other pastry teams at a large hotel, resort, or catering operation can earn more than $10,000 a year above that average. Per, the pay range for executive pastry chefs falls between $56,227 and $84,171 annually.

How much can you expect to earn if you're just starting out? ZipRecruiter reports that the average salary for an entry level pastry chef is $42,575 per year, but a degree or certificate from an accredited program can increase your earning potential. Where you work in the United States can also impact your salary as a pastry chef. For example, the average salary in Des Moines, IA is $56,136. In San Francisco, it is $72,660.

Bakers and pastry chefs are different

If your interests lean more toward baking, what kind of salary might you expect? As mentioned earlier, while pastry chefs and bakers work with many of the same ingredients and have similar skills, bakers generally work in "high-volume" retail environments, where they whip up large quantities of items like cakes, pies, muffins, donuts, or bread loaves, according to the Auguste Escoffier School. Additionally, bakers tend to make a wider variety of items, including savory baked goods.

Baker positions have an average salary of about $29,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary is lower than a pastry chef's because these are usually non-managerial jobs. Bakery managers, whether they oversee a small team or a large commercial operation, use not only their skills in flour, sugar, and butter, but their financial and managerial abilities as well. According to, the average bakery manager salary in the United States ranges from $42,752 to $51,473.

What do decorators earn?

Cake decorating is one of the more creative specialties for pastry chefs. These talented professionals transform ordinary flour, sugar, and icing into towering works of art for weddings, birthdays, and other occasions. Cake decorators or designers can work in bakeries, grocery stores, catering operations, or boutique cake shops, according to Escoffier.

However, a career in cake decoration isn't as lucrative as that of other pastry chefs. Cake decorators earn a median salary of $26,000 annually, per Zippia. However, high-end wedding cake designers can earn an average of $65,291. Entrepreneurs who open their own specialty cake businesses have the potential to earn much more. Although earning a certification or degree is not required to work as a pastry chef or decorator, these impart skills and techniques, can fetch you a higher starting salary, and make you more attractive to employers. According to the Auguste Escoffier School, those with a pastry arts degree or diploma earn 20.5% more than those who are uncertified. 

According to the American Society of Baking, The Retail Bakers of America and the American Culinary Federation offer certifications such as Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Decorator, and Certified Baker. Community colleges and culinary universities, such as Johnson & Wales or the Culinary Institute of America, offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs in pastry arts.

Chocolate, bread, and other pastry chef specialties

According to Le Cordon Bleu, pastry chefs may go on to work in a variety of highly specialized areas. Some may concentrate on the art of confiserie, more commonly known as candy making. If Willy Wonka represents your career goals, this is the field for you. Also known as a confiseur, a candy maker can create candies, of course, but also petits fours (those tiny, two-bite layer cakes covered in icing), elaborate "sugar work centerpieces," and more.

Pastry chefs can also become chocolate specialists. Chocolatiers learn challenging techniques, including tempering, piping, and ganache, in order to make chocolate candies like bonbons and truffles. (Chocolatiers are different than chocolate makers. Chocolatiers make candies and confections, whereas chocolate makers transform raw cocoa beans into chocolate, according to David Lebovitz.)

Boulangers specialize in bread, as well as other "viennoiserie" items like puff pastries and croissants. Finally, although it isn't pastry or baking, those who study the pastry arts also learn how to make ice cream and other frozen treats. Ice cream specialists, called glaciers, can also create ice sculptures.

Pastry chefs can work in a variety of environments and perform a large assortment of tasks depending on their skill and specialization, and the money they're able to make can vary just as widely.