Some veteran bakers say baking is a science, while others consider it an art. Regardless of the conflicting opinions, bakers are the reason we enjoy cookies, cupcakes, bread and other baked foods. If you are good with your hands, and you love spending time in the kitchen, baking is a career you could enjoy.
See Also: Ancient Professions – Baker
1. What Do Bakers Do?
The day-to-day duties of bakers include:
- Reviewing production schedules or work orders to determine the variety and amount of baked products that are needed
- Reviewing recipes to determine the ingredients needed for various baked products – Sometimes bakers also come up with their own recipes, especially when making custom cakes
- Measuring ingredients such as sugar, salt and flour and mixing them in the right proportions to form batter or dough
- Cutting the dough into various shapes and sizes, and baking it in the oven, pan or another baking equipment
- Regulating the amount of heat to ensure the dough bakes at the right temperature at various baking stages
- Decorating the baked products – This involves applying glaze and other toppings
- Observing occupational health and safety procedures while in the kitchen
- Ordering supplies
Although many bakers bake various products, others specialize in baking specific products, such as wedding cakes.
2. Work Environment
Bakers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Weekend work is also common. Those who work in large food companies work in shifts, as production is a 24-hour process.
If you can’t stand the heat, then maybe this job will not suit you. Although modern kitchen technologies are in use today, bakeries are still characterized by hot temperatures emanating from the constant use of ovens.
The mean annual wage for bakers in the US is:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4. Entry Requirements
Typically, you don’t need college-level training to become a baker. Many employers hire high school graduates, and let experienced bakers train them on the job.
However, competition for jobs is becoming fierce, and as a result, people with college training are highly desirable to employers. To advance your job prospects, therefore, join a community college and earn an associate degree in culinary arts, or patisserie and baking.
Here are some of the colleges offering these programs:
These programs will introduce you to the fundamentals of baking and equip you with mixing, shaping and baking techniques. Other topics covered include:
- Food safety
- Recipe development
- Hospitality operations
5. Important Qualities
To be an accomplished baker, you need:
- A passion for baking
- Strong basic math skills
- Fine manual dexterity skills
- An aptitude for practical work
- The ability to follow written instruction closely
- A good level of creativity for developing recipes
- An appetite for small details
- Excellent artistic skills for decorating cakes
- Good communication skills
- Good teamwork skills
- Good analytical skills for evaluating the quality of ingredients
- An awareness of product trends in the baking industry
6. Career Advancement
After landing your first job, focus on gaining vast work experience to heighten your career progression prospects. You should also focus on baking tasty products – the ones which can leave your employer’s customers coming back for more!
Beyond that, you can also:
- Obtain professional certification from the Retail Bakers of America. RBA offers a range of credentials, such as Certified Journey Baker, Certified Baker, Certified Decorator and Certified Master Baker. It also offers membership opportunities, which you can grab to access industry publications, and earn these certification at reduce costs.
- Pursue a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, restaurant management or hospitality management.
With experience, professional certification and a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, you can rise to become bakery supervisor. A baccalaureate in restaurant or hospitality management will enable you to move out of baking and take up management positions in restaurants and hotels.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of bakers include:
- Independent bakeries
- Grocery stores
- Restaurants and other food service establishments
- Food processing and manufacturing companies
Although employment opportunities are also available in military kitchens, you will need to fulfill other requirements to get hired. For example, you will need to be an American citizen with a security clearance.
Finally, population and economic growth will be the primary factors that will steer the demand for bakers through 2022. Many people with increasing incomes will definitely consume more baked products. This, according to the BLS, will result in 9,400 new jobs for bakers. Many of these jobs will go to skilled bakers, so it is important to seek post-secondary training.
Now you know what you need to take your baking enthusiasm to a professional level and get paid for it!