You love to bake. No, it’s way more than that. It’s an addiction, an obsession, a lifestyle. You wake up in the morning dreaming of new cookie recipes, and you spend days wondering what secret ingredient to put into your chocolate cake to make it super unique. Now you’re sick and tired of your boring day job and want your dream job. So why not follow your heart (and your stomach) and become a baker? You might not get super rich – bakers can get paid anywhere from $11.50 to $18 an hour. But if you wake up with flour in your hair, and you can’t get visions of sugarplums (and brownies) out of your head, then this is definitely the career path for you. Read on to find out how to become a baker (aka a sugar pusher).
1. Make sure you're good with numbers
I know, numbers and cookies? How do those possibly go together? Unfortunately, numbers are pretty boring and no one paid attention in Alegebra or Calculus classes back in high school (and those that say they love Math are probably lying). But you need to have amazing numbers skills since this kind of work means dealing with tons of measurements every single day.
You also have to deal with ordering ingredients and let’s not forget figuring out how long it’s going to take to bake those cookies into chewy, crispy delights. You might think it’s pretty simple (you usually bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, right?) but try baking about a million batches at once, and then doing it all over again once those beauties are out of the oven. Long story short: Algebra is boring, but you need to do some basic math when you’re a baker, and that’s just the way it goes.
2. Get training
So you’re an amazing baker. Your coworkers love you and your friends are always asking if you have any sweet stuff that they can try. You can’t show up at a party without bringing a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or brownies and you spend all your money on cookbooks, not to mention all your baking supplies. Hey, chocolate chips don’t come cheap – especially because you’re buying so many of them. So you might as well start a training program or you’re going to go totally broke from your cookbook and baking addiction.
What you want is a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. Sounds fancy, I know. You can be super fancy too when you’re wearing your chef’s hat and adorable apron and heading to class. I don’t know if you’ll actually get to wear that stuff, but hopefully you will because that would be awesome.
The number 1 school? That would be Hyde Park, New York’s The Culinary Institute of America. Besides baking, you’ll learn super important food safety tips, so no one gets sick or dies from your gourmet creations, and you can also learn how to be a manager if that’s what you’re into. There are also tons of community colleges that offer this degree so you can definitely find something close to home. Or you can travel far, far away if that’s your plan. Maybe you want to get away from your crazy family (no judgment here).
3. Get certified (if you want)
Getting certified as a baker isn’t super necessary. It’s not like being a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer (can you imagine having a lawyer who never went to law school? The thought is pretty terrifying). But if you want, you can get certified from the Retail Bakers of America. You can officially, 100 percent be a baker or even get certified as a Master Baker. How totally awesome would that be? If you’re wondering if you need this or not, it’s kind of like asking whether you need to head to grad school after going to college or university. It’s not super necessary, but it could help you impress potential employers and kill it in job interviews, and that’s what we all want, right?
It’s typical for bakers to begin their sweet careers as apprentices. You can’t just jump right in (as much as you might want to). You can apprentice at a bakery or even at a supermarket or smaller food market.
Your apprenticeship is also a pretty important time. It’s like college, except although your college major doesn’t matter, how you act and think during this time does matter. You know that bakers get up super early, right? This isn’t exactly your typical 9-to-5 job experience. You’ll have to get up way before dawn. You’ll also be standing most of the time. So if you’re a super lazy person whose best friend is their TV set, you might want to pick another profession.
5. Narrow your focus
There’s more than one type of baker. And no, I don’t mean that some bakers only make chocolate chip cookies and others only make vanilla cake. You can work in a small, independently owned and operated bakery. You’ll be an assistant baker and/or can work full or part-time. You can work in a massive supermarket or some sort of larger retail environment and that’ll be a totally different thing. It’s up to you if you like assembly line kind of baking or want a smaller, more intimate and more personal experience. In any other industry, you’d be asking yourself if you want to freelance or start a business, so this is a similar decision.
6. Hone your craft
So now you’ve finished your training and your apprenticeship and gotten hired. Congrats! You’re officially getting paid to bake. If that’s not living the dream, then I don’t know what is. Now it’s time to really get to work and become the best baker that you can possibly be. That might mean learning how to be more artistic and how to be a decorator. Learn how to decorate cupcakes and desserts to your heart’s content, and you just might be the go-to person when your boss wants a finished product to look super beautiful.
7. Open your own place
Once you’ve worked for someone else for a while, you might start dreaming of opening up your very own bakery. After all, we all kind of hate our bosses, and just because you don’t have a boring office job doesn’t mean you won’t feel the exact same way. This is pretty similar to starting any business. You’ll need to decide what type you want – a physical space or a virtual bakery. You’ll need a business plan and some investors (unless you’re super rich and have a crazy awesome inheritance). You’ll need to hire staff, both part-time and full-time, and you’ll have to start marketing and spreading the word. Without customers to buy and eat all your treats, after all, you’ll never be a success. And, of course, it being 2015 and all, you’ll need an online and social media presence.
Are you dying to be a baker ASAP? Be patient. You’ll be waking up at 3 a.m. and relying on tons of caffeine to get you through your long, hard baking days in no time. Get educated, learn from the best and you’ll be covered in butter and flour and sugar in no time – and getting paid for it. Sounds pretty awesome to me.
Are you a baker or studying to be a baker? Let us know what it’s like in the comments section below...