So, I start school on monday.

Joined Sep 22, 2010
I will be a newly-entering student into a bakery and pastry program this next monday, and everything I read tells me I'm mad for even considering going into this profession. I admit, I'm slightly nervous. I own a small house and have a very stable, albeit HORRIBLY low-paying, job. 

Somehow, none of it deters me. I'm 27, been in college for nearly 10 years, unable to finish a 4-year degree (trying to avoid student loans), and I make--after benefits destroy any semblance of my payback--probably around $7.50-8.50 an hour at my current full-time job. I figure that if I'm living this low to the poverty line now, adapting to low pay won't be as difficult. 

My job is quite easy, but very ungratifying. To advance further in the field I'm currently in, I'd have to obtain at least a master's degree, and considering it's taken me 10 years and running to get my bachelors, I don't think that's the best decision. I've always wanted to be a baker, and I think I'm in a good point in my life to make a change.

The program I'm attending is in a small school that holds both ACCSCT and ACF accreditation, and the instructor I've met so far is a CEPC, so at least I know it has some semblance of professionalism. The entire school situation is actually quite comfy, considering most I've read about. I'm going to 4-hour night classes, 4 days a week after my job. The entire certificate/diploma program will take about a year and a half. If I can't find a job after graduation, I have the luxury of holding out as I won't be quitting my full-time job while at school.

I'm not sure if my post really has any point, as it seems I'm just trying to rationalize my decision, but taking out student loans is not something I do with little consideration. I have to take out student loans to go to the school. It's not an expensive school by culinary standards, but it's way more than I can pay for as I go.

To the point of the matter, did anyone who had to give up an easy, but not exactly ideal, lifestyle have reservations about culinary school? It's not as if I'm not passionate about the work. I've always loved to bake, even as a child, and I've read several baking/pastry textbooks cover to cover. I've probably read through 2000 pages on the subject, and I feel no dissatisfaction in the time I've spent doing so, and I'm actually more enthusiastic about memorizing as much theory and learning technique has humanly possible.

Perhaps I'm just being a bit too cautious with my life choices. /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif

Thanks for your time.
Joined Jun 10, 2008
I say go for it. Piece of advice however, don't get a loan for all of that money to just be content with working at Wal-Mart bakery. If you're going to do this don't settle for average low-paying commercial baking because that's in all likely hood going to not make you enjoy baking anymore. As with all facets of the cooking industry, find the best bakery in your area and beg for a part time job.
Joined Sep 2, 2010
Have you ever worked in a restaurant? My best advice would be to work in the field before you go to culinary school and see how you like it. I wouldn't run out thinking that culinary school will ensure you a job upon graduation. It will give you a base of skills and place to start learning, but the real only way to learn professional cooking is doing it, and I mean really getting your butt kicked. You don't mess up a 2 dozen egg yolk Hollandaise more than once in a restaurant. I started flipping burgers at a greasy little joint and loved it, but, wanted to do new things, and that's when I decided to check out culinary school, which has been a very good decision so far, but it does not prepare you for working in a professional kitchen 

Edit: Profanity removed
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined Sep 22, 2010
Just fast food, nothing major. Worked in a Subway for a couple years. While it's not restaurant to speak of, the amount of work a properly-running Subway has to do is pretty intense. Since working at the location I did, I've never seen another properly run Subway. Only reason I quit is some of my coworkers were completely useless. When you had a good group on shift, things just sailed, but get a shift where your coworkers are idiots, and you'll be doing twice the work and probably a portion of it will be off the clock.

But also realize I'm not going to culinary school, I'm going to baking/pastry school.

I would have tried to get a job at a bakery, but there isn't too many of them around here. The few places that we do have locally are sort of owner-operated. I bet I could find an apprenticeship at one of those places, but I doubt I'd be paid, and I'm married and have a mortgage. Don't think not getting paid would work at this point in my life. /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif The program I'm going to is night classes, so I can still hold down a paying job. I'm only home about an hour and a half a day, but if I'm going to go into the business, I need to get used to long hours anyway.

I know school doesn't hand me a job. I'm not young and naive enough to think that, but I seriously doubt I'll work as a pastry chef in a restaurant anyway. I'd almost be just as satisfied doing artisan bread that I'd sell at a farmer's market with a commercial kitchen I rent from a local co-op while holding down another job. I'd still get the gratification of the work with the benefit of, well, benefits.

Jobs aside though, the only reason I'm going to school is because I'm passionate about something and want to learn more about it. I know I won't learn everything, but I could care less what jobs fall out of this education. For me, going to school for the sake of knowledge is probably the best perspective. If I wanted to go to school just so I could find jobs easier, I doubt I would have at all. Yeah, I could learn how to make a baguette at a lot of bakeries, but no one around here does, for example, sugar sculpture. I may never use sugar sculpture for the rest of my life, but I want to learn. /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif
Joined Oct 2, 2010
It took me a long while to rationalize my decision to go to school as well, but I broke it down to

Current job = low pay + unhappy

Job I had in kitchen = slightly better pay + Strenuous + happy

so why not go to school for something you have some ambition toward? You seem so willing to learn! might as well give a try

even if in the real world I only use a few techniques skills and dishes I learned, Its great to at least learn about all the wonderful aspects of the art. Don't you agree?

Latest posts

Top Bottom