Bakers sell bread and bread products. They wake up early in the morning and bake the fresh loaves, pastries, and other treats we all love to eat. Although today’s bakers rely on advanced machinery and technology to prepare dough and bake bread, baking is a practice that has been around since ancient times. In the old days, bakers typically worked for themselves and sold their bread locally. Today, large baking companies produce most of the bread we eat. If you love the smell of fresh bread and you like to work in the kitchen, keep reading to discover how to become a baker.
Education Required for Becoming a Baker
Apprentice Training or Culinary School
There are no formal education requirements for becoming a baker. Most professional bakers receive long-term on-the-job training as apprentices or choose to attend culinary school.
Degree Levels Available
You can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in baking and pastry arts at a culinary school. It takes one to two years to complete an associate’s degree in baking, and four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in the field.
Culinary School Prerequisites
The prerequisite to enter a baking and pastry school is typically a high school diploma or GED. Courses that you may be required to take in a baking program include the following:
- Baking & pastry techniques
- Baking equipment technology
- Food safety
- Cake methodology
- Specialty breads
- Menu planning
- Costs & food purchasing
- Cake decorating
- Chocolate techniques
- Restaurant desserts
Although certification is not required, professional bakers may choose to demonstrate their skills and knowledge by pursuing a certification. The Retail Bakers of America offers certifications focusing on several specialties, including baking sanitation, management, and retail sales.
Overview of Baking Careers
There are generally two types of bakers: retail bakers and commercial bakers. Commercial bakers work in manufacturing facilities, while retail bakers work in specialty shops and grocery stores.
Bakers have a variety of responsibilities. Bakers have to prepare equipment for baking, measure and weigh flour and other ingredients, knead dough, combine ingredients in mixers or blenders, cut and shape dough, place dough in pans and molds, and so much more.
Qualities that are important for bakers to possess include the ability to work well under pressure, the ability to work as part of a team, attention to detail, and the ability to follow instructions and do basic math.
Bakers may work in bakeries, manufacturing facilities, specialty food stores, restaurants, grocery stores, and general merchandise stores, among other settings. Baking can be a stressful job because you spend many hours on your feet and there are strict deadlines. There are also potential dangers, such as hot ovens and mixing machines. Many bakers have to work early hours and on the evenings and weekends. Some bakers run their own businesses, which is challenging, because they have to balance the long hours they spend baking with managing other aspects of the business.
Employment Outlook for Bakers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of bakers is expected to grow 6% from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than average. Although the growth of the population and the corresponding demand for baked goods from grocery store, bakeries, and restaurants will increase, manufacturing facilities are expected to amplify their machine automation, which will require fewer bakers. Nearly 33% of bakers work part-time. The industry with the highest employment of bakers include bakeries and tortilla manufacturing facilities, grocery stores, restaurants and eateries, specialty food stores, and hotels.
In 2013, the median annual salary for bakers was $23,160. The bottom 10% earned $17,300, and the top 10% earned $37,110. The top paying industries for bakers include the federal and state government, hotels, and schools from the elementary to the collegiate level. The top paying states are DC, Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
Now that you know how to become a baker, you can take the steps necessary to pursue this career path. Working as a baker could be a good fit for those who desire a hands-on career that allows them to be creative and experience the joys of feeding happy customers.[schools cid=1013 sub=Culinary%20%26%20Hospitality scat=Baking%20%26%20Pastry csrc=state]