Info On Becoming A Wilton Instructor?

Decorating By NanaFixIt Updated 18 Dec 2008 , 2:12pm by annacakes

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NanaFixIt Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:33am
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Hi all! I am considering teaching some classes at our local Michaels or JoAnn's and was hoping some of you current WMIs could offer me some insight. All I know is what I read online, which isn't much. Can any of you share some details about what it requires to teach the courses - or any insider info you might have gained during your teaching tenure?

Thanks in advance!

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:47am
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Have you searched the boards and read the posts about WMIs? There are many of them that cover alot of different asspects to teaching.

Are you asking what you do to become an WMI or about being a WMI in general?

To become an WMI you go to the Wilton website and fill out the app. They will contact you if there is an opening in the area. You will do an phone interview with a Wilton Supervisor and share pictures of your work. If they accept you as a WMI they will get you in contact with the store. At Michaels you are a store employee, so them you have to go through their hiring process.

I think it is very helpful if you have had the Wilton classes. I don't know that I think it is a must have, but it is important to know what you are teaching. When I became a WMI I got to sit in on the last course the instructor before me offered. It was very interesting, because sitting there watching as a "I'm going to be doing that job next month" I saw things alot different than I did when I was a student taking the classes.

I've been a WMI for Michaels for 4 years now, so feel free to ask me anything.

At Michaels we are required to offer at least 2 courses every month, a course one and another one. We are also required to do Manditory demo's at set times (on Saturdays) through out the year.

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NanaFixIt Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 3:58am
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Thank you, TexasSugar! Even though I apparently wasn't clear about my question, you did a terrific job of answering it!

I took Wilton Course I & II at our local Michaels and loved it. Then our instructor left so I was forced to take Course III at JoAnn's. It did not go so well and in fact, I wasn't able to complete it with them. The instructor cancelled the class several times and when it was finally scheduled for the rest of the classes, I was out of town. It was quite disappointing after the fantastic experience I'd had with the first 2 classes.

Your basic info on what is expected was exactly what I was looking for. I did fill out the form online, but it was unclear what would be expected at individual stores. My preference is to teach at Michaels since my experience there was so positive (& I find that's where I end up when looking for supplies most often).

A couple additional questions - as an instructor at Michaels, are we expected to find and sign up our own students? Would I have the freedom to determine the class day / times or is that usually dictated by the store manager? And one last indelicate question - how and what are WMIs paid for the classes? (You can PM me with that info if you're not comfortable posting it.)

Thanks again for taking the time to offer your insight. I'm guessing you enjoy teaching the classes since you've been doing it for 4 years?! I'm looking forward to the experience, but I have some pretty big shoes to fill since my instructor was phenomenal!

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 4:42am
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I can't say one store is better than the others. I have only taught at Michaels and I am glad it is the store I am at. There are pros for it that out weight the cons at the others, atleast for me.

The demo's we do are suppose to help attact interest in the classes. As we can put of flyers (approved ones) to show that we have classes. To do the flyers, you would work with the store EC.

The cashiers will handle the actual part of signing students up and them paying. You may have to train the cashiers on how to do it though. icon_smile.gif You will work with the EC to get the sign up sheets in the book for the cashiers to use. I do think ig falls under the EC job to do it, but I always put my own sign up sheets in the book. That way I know the dates and information are correct.

Since at Michaels we only teach Wilton classes now the calendar should be very open as to what days/times you can teach. When I started I had to work around other classes, but still ended up with 4 nights a week I could teach. Your manager or EC may suggest certain times, but from what I understand you get to pick what works with your schedule.

The pay will depend on how many people are in the class. 1 to 6 students is $33.50 a night or $130 a month. 7-8 students the pay goes up to $154 (I think. They just gave us a 'raise' so I can't remember exactly.) From 9 up it goes up like $3 a night for each student over that number.

You also get $39 for doing 2 hour demo's.

Some months you may only have 1 or two courses running, depending on how many courses you can offer. And sometimes you may have 3 or 4. So the pay will vary every month. This means it makes it hard for a job that pays the bills from it. I have always looked at it as a great part time job for extra spending money.

As a Michaels employee, you get a 25% off discount for everything you buy that isn't on sale. As a WMI you can order directly from Wilton with a 40% off discount (but then you have to pay shipping.) You also get chance to earn gift certificates to use when ordering directly from Wilton. Every now and then you get some freebys as well from Wilton.

I do enjoy teaching the classes very much. I have had some trying students, but the majority of them are great and I have gotten to see alot of people start with knowing very little to making beautiful cakes. It is awesome knowing I helped with that.

The instructor before me was a sweet heart and I loved her. I had taken the first two at Hobby Lobby but that instructor left the store and I went to Michaels for the last. I had already been there at a project class and really enjoyed the instructor. I figured it would be hard to follow her, and I still meet people in the store every now and then that took classes from her and talk about how great she was.

This weekend I was up there for a demo and one of the store employees came up to me and told me that a lady had come in there the other day and was buying stuff and was raving about how great of a teacher I was and how she really enjoyed the classes and so on. I also have a current student that ends up talking to people in the aisle when she is shopping telling them how great I am and how they should take classes at my store instead of Hobby Lobby. Those are the people that make you feel great about what you do.

I totally believe this is a job you have to love to do, and not be doing it for the money. Of course I like getting paid for what I do, but I really enjoy it too.

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NanaFixIt Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 5:17am
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Thank you SO much for your valuable information!!! I am truly looking at this as a way to share my passion while making a little extra money. Mainly to support my habit, rather than trying to pay bills. I love what I do and believe that anyone with passion and diligence can do what I've learned so far - and probably even more.

We own a home maintenance / remodel company where I run the office, but beyond that, it's not really about me. I certainly could not go out and fix or remodel anybody's home. I'm looking at this as a way I can share some of my own talents with others and hopefully inspire others. Again, the money is only to support my addiction to the art!

Your info has calmed my nerves immensely. I filled out the form online just 2 days ago and I felt pretty good about it. But then they called me today and I went into panic mode! I realized I had no true idea of what to expect and started to doubt my ability to even fulfill the requirements of what I signed up for! It's so good to hear you talk about the emotional benefits of doing this, for that's really what makes any task worth doing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking time to share your experiences. I will strive to have the same impact on my students that you obviously have had on yours. icon_smile.gif

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 3:27pm
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If they accept you you will get some training vidoes and some guides that go with the course books to help you out.

I'm sure you will do fine. My number one rule in the class for my students it to have fun, I think if you keep that in mind it makes it better for everyone, including you.

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AuntAndrea Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 4:01pm
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If you don't mind, I may ask to pick your brain a bit on this same subject! I just got a response from the Wilton folks about my becoming an instructor (I filled out the online form about 2 months ago), and am about to send them pictures, etc., as requested. Then I guess we'll set up the phone interview. I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing, although I think it would be a terrific outlet for me (teaching the classes, I mean). icon_smile.gif

Do you remember the first class you taught? Any fond/not-so-fond memories you'd care to share? icon_cool.gif


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zubia Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 4:20pm
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NanaFixIt ,thank you for aking this question ,I have always wanted to do this ,I just LOVE Micheals ,I took my classes there.I love to shop there ,cake or any other hobby.
TexasSugar, thank you for explaining it in detail. I would love to do this ,waiting for my kid to grow up and go to school. thumbs_up.gif

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 4:29pm
post #9 of 21

I was totally nervious my first class, mainly because I have never been a big 'talk infront of the class' kind of person. I HATED giving oral reports in HS. And before I filled out the app. that was something that I worried about. Could I really talk in front of a group of people?

Apparently I can. I do better with smaller classes. Sometimes when I have a larger class I have to take some deep breathes before I start the first night of course one. Once I get into it, it's pretty routine and I don't think so much about how many is in the class.

I do think you have to learn to let some things roll off your back. So the cake I made for course 1 lesson 1 decided to stick to the pan. Fine, I'll just take it. It shows I'm not perfect and have issues too. It also shows them how you can work with of fix some problems. I left my measuring cups at home, okay I'll just guess. Oh and there was that night I left my whole tool box at home. I have learned that somethings you can do with out, some things you can replace with other items.

If you get all freaked out and worked up, that will just come across in your class and stress your students out with you.

I have had some really great students and classes. I've had some days where I didn't want to go teach. The day had been one of those days and it would just be nicer to crawl in bed and ignore everything. And 9 times out of 10 when I get to class no matter what my mood is, it always improves and before the class is over we are laughing about something.

And yes I've had some of those people that I leave class shaking my head and share the nights not so fun adventures with my mom.

One thing I have learned over the last 4 years is that the students will get out of the class what they want. Yes it is my job to teach them, but they have to put forth the effort as well to be prepared and learn. Sometimes you will get that student that shows up late and unprepared every week. Instead of getting annoyed about it, I just let it go and do what I can with what they have to work with.

People also take the classes for many different reasons. Some are there because they seriously want to learn cake decorating. Some are there because their friend or family member talked them into it, but they aren't that into it. Some are there for a social hour with their family member or friend they are taking the class with. Some will really want to learn it but have trouble.

You just have to be encoraging and do your best to teach them all what you can.

Sorry for the ramble. icon_smile.gif

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 4:37pm
post #10 of 21
Originally Posted by zubia

I would love to do this ,waiting for my kid to grow up and go to school. thumbs_up.gif

I teach only in the evenings. If you are married and hubby has a day job then maybe he will watch him/her for a few hours a couple nights a week so you can get a little time away. icon_smile.gif

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NanaFixIt Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 6:29pm
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I'm exactly where you are with this, however I only filled out the form 2 days ago and thought I'd have a little more time to adjust to the idea! I'll go forward without fear if you will! icon_lol.gif

Thank you again for your informed responses to my questions. I can't tell you how much better I feel just having more information about what to expect - both from the process and the actual teaching. It's good to hear that you were nervous to start but that you're still doing it 4 years's encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone. I don't hate change, but I tend to approach it with an 'aw geez, do I really have to' attitude and back away more than I like.

It's good to know how you approach the different types of students you've encountered. In the first course I took, we had one of each type you described in the class - no kidding! You could have been describing that class as though you were there! While my instructor handled it all in stride, it was a bit frustrating for the couple of us that were in the class because we really wanted to learn. Based on what you said, I guess the important thing is to strike a good balance in the class so that everyone gets what they came for. Easier said than done, I'm sure, so you may be hearing from me once classes actually start!!

I so appreciate you taking the time to help on this - you may have encouraged 3 new instructors to share the passion!!

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Carolynlovescake Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 7:18pm
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I work at Michael's.

It's got it's frustrations but mine are some what unique because we are only one of three stores with the new style in the USA so it's basically a "test store" and I'm working out the kinks for the stores to follow.

The upside is that I get to share my passion with others and get some pay for it in return.

I'm not going to go into deep detail here with all the pro's/con's because some won't apply to you and those that will have already been shared.

If you have any other questions or are going to a new store like mine please PM me your phone # and I'll gladly call you (I have free long distance) and talk with you and share what I can.

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 7:39pm
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Originally Posted by NanaFixIt

Easier said than done, I'm sure, so you may be hearing from me once classes actually start!!

I'm glad I could help. Feel free to PM me any time. Once you get your instructor number and other information there is also a WMI message board you can join.

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Brujalita Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 8:09pm
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Could I add my 2 cents? I've been a WMI for going on 7 years. The desciption of the different types of students is right on, and then some! One thing I'd like to add is that Wilton wants you to teach "The Wilton Way". You may know a better/easier way of doing things but you are to teach Wilton's Way. I get around it by first showing Wilton's way and then if I've come across something that works better, I'll preface it by first saying, "it's not Wilton but I find this works better/easier..."

You might also come across students that won't do things Wilton's way and do things their own way, whether they've decorated previously or not - a previous student didn't like the way the flowers were made in Course II so she just started doing them her own way. She ended up taking both Course I and II twice, just because she had such a good time!!

In the end, I think the important thing to remember is that you know more than they do (at least about Wilton's way of decorating!). If I'm asked a question and I don't know the answer, I'll tell them that and find out the answer for all of us. It's OK to let them see you're human - I had a Course I recently and I forgot to take the paddle to my stand mixer for the first night of class, couldn't make a double batch of buttercream and had to buy 2 cans of icing off the store shelf.

Relax, have fun, and enjoy teaching those students that want to be there and learn. HTH!!

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TexasSugar Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 9:16pm
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Opps I did forget about the Wilton way thing. I guess it is because even at home I still do alot of things the Wilton way. I use some other products besides Wilton at home, but I think all the basic information can be used by anyone.

There are a few things I do a little differently than the Wilton way. And there are a few things I will add in and show my students. I always teach them the 'wilton' way and then the 'other' way. I don't tell them it is better/easier, just that it is a different way.

I do let them know that Wilton is great for the basics, but there really isn't a right or wrong way to do cake decorating. What works better for some doesn't always work as well for others.

Originally Posted by Brujalita

In the end, I think the important thing to remember is that you know more than they do (at least about Wilton's way of decorating!). If I'm asked a question and I don't know the answer, I'll tell them that and find out the answer for all of us. It's OK to let them see you're human

I've heard people say that you should remember you know more than they do, but then you hear people on here talk about how they were suprised their instructor have never heard about using viva paper towels or some other things and they equate that to their experince.

An instructor can be a awesome at the "Wilton Way" and not feel the need to expand upon that. Or she could be just okay at the Wilton Way, but make gumpaste flowers that could compete with Nic Lodge.

My students Monday night refered to me as a professional cake decorator and I was like no I'm not. I don't feel that way. But they were like yes you were you teach people how to do it and do cakes for people.

I do tell my students I am just an average person like they are, I have just have been doing this longer. I also tell them I don't have all the answers. I encourage them to ask questions, answer what I can, and like you look for answers when I can't.

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pkingham72 Posted 12 Jul 2008 , 12:34am
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I've also filled out the Wilton form online and got a response. This may be a silly question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Do I have to send in pictures of everything she asked to see or just pics of what I have? She listed about 10 different things she wants to see, but told me that 3-5 pictures should be enough. I know how to do all of it, I just haven't taken pictures of everything I've done.

I'm just wondering if I should whip up a batch of icing so I can take pictures of stuff I don't already have.


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jennianne Posted 18 Dec 2008 , 12:34am
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I just went through this too, and I didn't have any pics of royal icing flowers and some other things. I just picked a cake picture that had (IMO) the nicest border, one w/the best flowers, one with the best basketweave. She didn't need to see everthing on the list. Just brag about your best few cakes!

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cakesdivine Posted 18 Dec 2008 , 1:15pm
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I love to teach it is in my blood. About 5 or 6 years ago I filled out the online application, I had completed all their courses about 15 years prior to that, and had been decorating professionally for about 12 years at that point. I received an email telling me to retake all the courses again then they would consider an interview. I was PISSED. It was as if they were just wanting more money out of me, they didn't even ask to see what my cakes looked like! I prefer Wilton method on most things. There are a few little tricks, and techniques that I learned over the years but I hadn't forgotten or strayed from my Wilton training. I don't know if that was their common procedure back then or what, but the reason I applied was because our local Hobby Lobby had a sign stating they needed teachers. Maybe I will try again.

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jillmakescakes Posted 18 Dec 2008 , 1:29pm
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I've been a WMI for 2 years now and I love it! Its so much fun, by the time my students get to course 2, it's more like a gathering of friends than teachers/students.

I'd have to agree that one of the most frustrating things is when you know a faster/easier/simpler way, but you have to teach the Wilton way. One of the things that I do is to offer these tricks during downtime. The last course (Fondant and Gum Paste) has a lot of down time and I use these tips and tricks to fill the gaps.

Regarding the photos to send: I wouldn't worry about sending everything they asked for. Try to send some of the more advanced techniques. They pretty much want to know if you can do the "hard" stuff. There will always be things that you aren't perfect at. For the life of me, I cannot make a RI daisy that I like, but every one of my students can do it. I can't explain that one. icon_confused.gif

I wish every luck who is applying. Its a lot of fun, great practice for yourself and you get discounts... what could be better thumbs_up.gif

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Kay_NL Posted 18 Dec 2008 , 1:59pm
post #20 of 21

I had a disheartening experience with Micheal's. I was urged by my previous instructor to apply to teach as they desperately needed a new instructor.

I filled out all the forms, sent in all the pictures, did the phone interview, was told my intro package would be on the way and Micheal's would be contacting me to hire me soon. Then Micheal's decided that they no longer needed a third instructor. I was so down because it was something I was really looking forward to. icon_sad.gif

At our store I would have been required to teach at least one course a month and two every second month. It really depends on the store size, demand for courses, and the number of other instructors. They still don't have anyone teaching courses on Thursday nights or Sunday mornings of every second month. Those were to be "my" times.

I hope your experience goes better than mine did...

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annacakes Posted 18 Dec 2008 , 2:12pm
post #21 of 21

If you like to decorate cakes and you like people, you will love this job. Everything else aside, I'd say the best part is seeing people develop their talents and enjoy what they learn. Very rewarding. 4 years as a WMI - only one bad/nasty student. Love my job.

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