A cake decorator works at a bakery, grocery store or specialty cake shop and decorates cakes using a variety of tools, materials and food items. In May 2010, the median annual wage for cake decorators was $24,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Decorators work a full- or part-time schedule and pay is directly related to industry knowledge and experience.
Some cake decorators have a pastry degree or certificate from a school such as Le Cordon Bleu, while others take cake decorating classes at a community college or participate in The Registered Apprenticeship Program run by the Department of Labor. However, experience with food preparation and decorating, knowledge of cake-decorating terminology and artistic talent trumps a formal education. Suzi Finer, a high-end decorator at Los Angeles, CA-based Hansen's Cakes who decorated the cakes for the Kardashian weddings, said her drawing and sketching sample got her the job, not her education.
The ability to listen well and provide prompt and courteous service to customers is crucial. A wedding cake decorator reviews decorating options and sketches possible designs for the engaged couple, while a grocery store cake decorator takes orders and customizes cakes with the adornments that the bakery offers. Cake decorators must have an extensive knowledge of decorating terms, such as fondant versus butter cream or basket weave versus corneille lace, to communicate with customers.
Cake decorators prepare icings, apply toppings and decorate cakes by writing customized messages using size-appropriate tips and pastry bags. Additional decorating responsibilities include garnishing ready-to-buy cakes, such as cheesecakes, seasonal pies and fruit tarts, placed in the display case. In addition, when a particular design is ordered, the decorator combines her artistic talent and food knowledge to create unique, sometimes edible, toppers that stay in place.
Cleaning and Materials
Cleaning icing bags, nozzles, spatulas, icing comb sets, flower lifters and other tools are a cake decorator's responsibility. Work areas should be cleaned and sanitized several times throughout the day. In addition, because the cake decorator prepares ingredients for fillings and pastes, it is her responsibility to re-order goods or alert bakery personnel when supplies run low.
A cake decorating shift is sometimes scheduled after hours or in the early morning to prepare for customer arrivals or morning weddings and parties. Decorators must be able to stand for long periods of time, meet deadlines and take meticulous notes. In addition, she must enjoy working independently and take responsibility when cakes fail to meet a customer's approval. It is also a good idea for decorators to keep up on the latest trends and techniques by attending cake decorating seminars and continuing education classes.
- Suzi Finer; Cake Decorator Hansens Cakes; Los Angeles, Ca
- Degree Directory.org: How Can I Get A Cake Decorating Apprenticeship
- Costco Warehouse: Cake Decorator
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Painting and Coating Workers Do
- Your Cake Decorating Class: Decorating Terms
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