Put simply, a chocolatier can be defined as someone who makes and sells confectionery made from chocolate. They may be responsible for the whole process from start to finish, from devising a recipe, through to making the product, and finally packaging, displaying and selling. They may be salaried or self-employed and can become a Master Chocolatier once they have acquired the relevant skills and experience. They may work in a specialist chocolate shop, whether artisanal, independent or part of a worldwide group, or indeed as part of a professional kitchen or at the production facilities of a chocolate manufacturer.
How to become a chocolatier?
It’s a competitive industry so having professional qualifications is recommended in order to give you the edge. Training can be undertaken at a culinary school such as Institut Culinaire de France, which offers two options for budding chocolatiers. The first is the Professional Certificate, which is a six-month intensive course covering all the relevant techniques, skills and knowledge required to be employable and have a successful career. The second is the Confectionary Arts & Entrepreneurship Bachelor’s degree—a three-year course designed to train ambitious candidates not only in chocolate, but also in the fields of pastry, confectionery, ice-cream and baking, while building on the cross-disciplinary fields of management, marketing, communication and interpersonal skills.
Professional experience is also key, with apprenticeships being a great route to becoming a chocolatier. At Institut Culinaire de France, a work placement is part of your training, which is a real plus for furthering your knowledge and for preparing your entry into the job market. For the Professional Certificate, you’ll have a two-month work placement, and on the BA there is a five-month placement each year. Further professional immersion is also achieved via vivas, masterclasses and educational excursions.
You’ll need to be proficient in a wide range of skills to become a chocolatier—all of which will be developed during your training at Institut Culinaire de France. Being creative is fundamental, as you develop and devise recipes and aesthetic creations. It’s essential to be able to work under pressure, and physical and mental strength is required. Furthermore, as chocolate making is such a meticulous process, having patience and a good eye for detail are key. You’ll need to have a good grasp of the chemistry behind chocolate making and the maths required to calculate formulas for recipes. People skills are also important, as you will be working with a team and with your clients and customers. In addition to this, entrepreneurial skills are vital to be able to run the day-to-day business side of things.
Chocolatier job duties
It goes without saying that at the heart of the job of a chocolatier is, of course, making chocolate. Leveraging the essential production skills of the trade, including tempering, dipping, moulding, decorating and sculpting, they will make individual chocolates, including truffles and those filled with fruit, caramel, coffee or liqueur, chocolate bars and chocolate confectionery, and all manner of chocolate-based desserts including entremets, tarts, cakes and pastries. They will also design and make chocolate showpieces, explore flavour combinations and devise new recipes, particularly for seasonal occasions like Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Custom orders, whether for corporate clients or retail customers may also be a part of the chocolatier’s remit.
In addition to this are the maintenance and safety aspects of the role, including cleaning and disinfecting premises, equipment and materials, and verifying the correct operation of equipment and safety devices.
Quality control is also part of the role, requiring the chocolatier to check the conformity of raw materials and products throughout the manufacturing process, as well as weights and quantities, and the appearance of finished products.
If you decide to run your own independent venture, or if you become the manager of an established company, you will also be responsible for the day-to-day business side of things, spanning bookkeeping, supplies, staff, marketing, and all entrepreneurial activities linked to building a successful and profitable brand.
Earnings for a chocolatier vary, depending on a number of factors, particularly the candidate’s experience and the location of the job but, in general, employees will start out on the minimum wage. Those who run their own independent chocolate business may stand to earn more, with a self-employed artisan able to earn up to around €3000 to €4000 a month.