How to Become a Baker

Baking is an important part of the food processing industry that involves cooking products using convection typically in an oven. Bakers are trained professionals that prepare a variety of products for many different reasons.

What does a baker do?

Bakers combine and bake ingredients according to recipes to create a variety of quantities of products such as breads, pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, tarts, and other baked goods. They often add a variety of flavors and ingredients to give products a signature taste. Bakers often work in specialty shops, restaurants, and grocery stores where they make small quantities of baked goods that are available for consumption in the environment of for sale. Some bakers work in manufacturing positions where they produce products in larger amounts to be distributed to large facilities. They use high-volume ovens, mixing machines, and other necessary equipment.

What kind of training does a baker need?

Bakers typically begin their careers as trainees or apprentices. Trainees usually start in store bakeries and apprentices usually begin in craft bakeries. Many apprentices participate in training programs and gain certificates in baking. Others work as assistants to experienced bakers to gain practical experience. Bakers need to gain sufficient skills in baking, decorating, and icing and a strong knowledge in products, ingredients, nutrition, baking equipment. They also need to understand business concepts and government health and sanitation standards. They must know how ingredients mix with each other and how heat and production affects different ingredients.

Bakers can gain voluntary certification from the Retails Bakers of America to remain competitive in the field. There are four levels of competency including retail sales, baking sanitation, staff training, and management. Minimum education and experience are required for certification.

What are the prospects for a career as a baker?

Employment of bakers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increase in traditional, specialty, and store bakeries will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for highly skilled bakers with extensive experience. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace bakers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do bakers make?

As of October 2009, bakers with less than 1 year experience earn average hourly rates between $7.60 and $10.17. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $8.60 and $11.42 (2).

A career as a baker is a great choice for people with a strong passion in baking a variety of products. Bakers must have excellent eye-hand coordination, detail orientation, and ability to accurately follow directions. Since bakers work with the public and a variety of other professionals they must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They must also be able to work under pressure and meet strict deadlines. Bakers must be able to work efficiently independently and as part of a team.

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