There are a couple of options when thinking about becoming a pastry chef. You can either start your own business (by opening a store or working out of your home), or join the staff of a restaurant. Joining the staff of a high end restaurant or 5 star hotel will offer the highest pay and give you the exposure necessary to become famous in the culinary arts world.
Being a pastry chef involves attention to detail. Small changes in a recipe can make a big difference, so pastry chefs need to pay attention to what they're doing, even while performing routine tasks. You will also need to have artistic ability and creativity to produce pastries and desserts that look as good as they taste.
Pastry chefs need people skills in order to establish a successful business and reputation. Whether it's working with staff, other chefs, vendors or customers, developing people skills is imperative.
It goes without saying that a strong work ethic is necessary as well. A pastry job often requires long hours on your feet performing repetitive tasks, and can be more physically demanding than most people realize. It can be exhausting, as most pastry chefs start early in the morning, around three or four o'clock am! You will need to be strong physically, as there may be some lifting involved. Being mentally prepared is important too, as the day to day responsibilites can become overwhelming.
There are a number of degree programs that can train an aspiring chef to become a pastry chef. Degree programs cater to many different specialties. Some focus on cakes, others on other types of desserts, and some on baked goods, such as rolls and breads. These types of programs are generally for chefs who want to work at high-end restaurants and hotels. Pastry chefs who want to work more casually can often go to more simple culinary schools or, in some cases, train themselves.
If you are looking to become an executive pastry chef in an elite establishment, you probably want to take your education very seriously. Take some basic classes to make sure you have a basic understanding of the art, and that it is something you want to do for a career. After that, you should apply to all of the elite pastry chef schools around the country, or even some of the most famous ones around the world. These schools will allow you to perfect your skills, as well as give you the credentials that will allow you to get some of the top jobs in the industry. While it will be your skill and creativity that will make you a known commodity, it will be the degree from the elite school that gets your foot in the door. It may also allow you to get a pastry chef apprentice position with some of the top chefs in the world.