Tangerine - I went to pastry school in 2004. Now I am a pastry chef and love what I do. But. There is no simple answer for any of us to give to someone else because our industry is undergoing a lot of changes. When the recession hit the US, many high-end restaurants were struggling and I don't think that sector of the market ever fully recovered. You have a lot of fine dining chefs that branched out to open gastropubs and such. Diners no longer wanted to drop $300 on a several-hours-long tasting menu with quite the same frequency as before. Unfortunately, those fine dining restaurants provided work for those of us in the pastry field. A gastropub with a lower check average just can't afford a full time pastry chef.
In Las Vegas, where I work, many hotels condensed their pastry staff. It is more efficient to have one pastry chef create desserts for multiple restaurants on the same property. These things may make business sense, but it can reduce the number of opportunities for people coming out of pastry school.
I am only speaking from what I see in my corner of the world. But at the same time that may sound depressing, I love what I do and that counts for a lot. It is entirely possible to make a living wage here as a pastry cook, with health insurance, before you even make it to pastry chef status. I feel like I am always hiring, always looking for good pastry cooks because they can be so hard to find. When it comes to pastry chefs, it is sometimes better to promote because they can be even harder to find from outside. Someone with a good attitude can go a long ways in this industry. But I have also seen many people burn out by the hours and many people having trouble finding work. So which is true? For me, this is a great career and I think you are doing the right thing by asking all of these questions now. I just wish I had a clearer answer to give.