Bakers mix ingredients according to recipes in order to make breads, pastries, and other baked goods.
What they do
Bakers typically do the following:
- Check the quality of baking ingredients
- Prepare equipment for baking
- Measure and weigh flour and other ingredients
- Combine measured ingredients in mixers or blenders
- Knead, roll, cut, and shape dough
- Place dough into pans, into molds, or onto baking sheets
- Set oven temperatures and place items into ovens or onto grills
Bakers produce various types and quantities of breads, pastries, and other baked goods sold by grocers, wholesalers, restaurants, and institutional food services.
The following are examples of types of bakers:
Commercial bakers, also called production bakers, work in manufacturing facilities that produce breads, pastries, and other baked products. In these facilities, bakers use high-volume mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment, which may be automated, to mass-produce standardized baked goods. They carefully follow instructions for production schedules and recipes.
Retail bakers work primarily in grocery stores and specialty shops, including bakeries. In these settings, they produce smaller quantities of baked goods for people to eat in the shop or for sale as specialty baked goods. Retail bakers may take orders from customers, prepare baked products to order, and occasionally serve customers. Although the quantities prepared and sold in these stores are often small, they usually come in a wide variety of flavors and sizes. Most retail bakers are also responsible for cleaning their work area and equipment and unloading supplies.
Some retail bakers own bakery shops where they make and sell breads, pastries, pies, and other baked goods. In addition to preparing the baked goods and overseeing the entire baking process, they are also responsible for hiring, training, and supervising their staff. They must budget for and order supplies, set prices, and decide how much to produce each day.
The work can be stressful because bakers follow time-sensitive baking procedures and often work under strict deadlines. For example, bakers must follow daily production schedules to bake products in sufficient quantities while maintaining consistent quality. In manufacturing facilities, they often work with other production workers, such as helpers and maintenance staff, so that equipment is cleaned and ready.
Bakers are exposed to high temperatures when working around hot ovens. They stand for hours at a time while observing the baking process, making the dough, or cleaning the baking equipment.
How to become a Baker
Long-term on-the-job training is the most common path to gain the skills necessary to become a baker. Some bakers start their careers through an apprenticeship program or by attending a technical or culinary school. No formal education is required.
Although there are no formal education requirements to become a baker, some candidates attend a technical or culinary school. Programs generally last from 1 to 2 years and cover nutrition, food safety, and basic math. To enter these programs, candidates may be required to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Most bakers learn their skills through long-term on-the-job training, typically lasting 1 to 3 years. Some employers may provide apprenticeship programs for aspiring bakers. Bakers in specialty bakery shops and grocery stores often start as apprentices or trainees and learn the basics of baking, icing, and decorating. They usually study topics such as nutrition, sanitation procedures, and basic baking. Some participate in correspondence study and may work toward a certificate in baking.
Some bakers learn their skills through work experience related to baking. For example, they may start as a baker’s assistant and progress into a full-fledged baker as they learn baking techniques.
Certification is voluntary and shows that a baker has the skills and knowledge to work at a retail baking establishment.
The Retail Bakers of America offers certification in four levels of competence, with a focus on several topics, including baking sanitation, management, retail sales, and staff training. Those who wish to become certified must satisfy a combination of education and experience requirements before taking an exam.
The education and experience requirements vary by the level of certification desired. For example, a Certified Journey Baker requires no education but must have at least 1 year of work experience. A Certified Baker must have 4 years of work experience and 30 hours of sanitation coursework, and a Certified Master Baker must have 8 years of work experience, 30 hours of sanitation coursework, and 30 hours of professional development education.
The median annual wage for bakers was $27,700 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $41,640.
Employment of bakers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Population and income growth are expected to result in greater demand for specialty baked goods, such as cupcakes, pies, and cakes, from grocery stores, retail bakeries, and restaurants.
However, employment of bakers in food manufacturing may be limited as these facilities increasingly use automated machines and equipment to mass-produce baked goods.
Similar Job Titles
Baker, Bakery Clerk, Bakery Manager, Cake Decorator, Dough Mixer, Machine Operator, Mixer, Pastry Chef, Processor, Scaler
Cooks-Fast Food; Cooks-Institution and Cafeteria; Cooks-Restaurant; Butchers and Meat Cutters; Inspectors-Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Bakers Association - From large wholesale baking companies to startup bakeries, the ABA is the only bakery-specific national and state trade association, delivering results on priorities affecting the companies that feed the world.
- American Society of Baking - The ASB, formerly known as the American Society of Bakery Engineers, is a professional society comprised of members who are either engaged in, involved with, or interested in wholesale or large-scale bakery production, grain science, engineering, research, quality assurance and food safety. Students, take a look at the University program profiles for this field.
- BakerPedia - This is a repository of digital information and resources for the commercial baking industry worldwide. It claims to be the ‘leading voice for innovative baking solutions’.
- Bread Bakers Guild of America - The Bread Bakers Guild of America has dedicated itself to advancing the artisan baking profession. The Guild is well known in the baking community as the go-to educational resource for substantive, accurate information on the craft of making bread.
- Retail Bakers of America - RBA is a not-for-profit trade association is committed to the success of the retail baking industry.
- Home Baking Association - This organization is at the forefront in sharing tools and knowledge to not only current bakers, but future generations as well. In recent years more people have learned about HBA than ever before, keeping the momentum of this non-profit organization going strong. Students, view the extensive list of learning options
Magazines and Publications
- Bread Lines (BBGA sponsored magazine)
- HBA Newsletter
- Bake Magazine
- Bake From Scratch Magazine
- Baking Business
- Pastry Arts Magazine
The aroma of fresh baked bread, cakes, and pastries, is just one of the job benefits that Bakers get to enjoy every day. From large-scale manufacturing bakeries to small retail shops, bakers work in environments that offer delicious scents. Bakers must become familiar with ingredients; measuring, weighing and combining them, and checking their quality. They use time and speed controls for mixers, blending machines, steam kettles, and ovens. Bakers must follow instructions closely and stay on schedule to ensure products are properly baked and fresh when served or packaged. Commercial bakers work in manufacturing facilities—large-scale commercial bakeries— that produce breads and pastries, often at high speeds. They use large, automated machines, such as commercial mixers, ovens, and conveyors. They must carefully follow instructions for production schedules and recipes. Retail bakers work primarily in grocery stores and specialty shops. They may take orders from customers, prepare goods to order, and produce a wide variety of flavors and sizes. Most retail bakers also clean their own work area and equipment and unload supplies. Long-term on-the-job training is the most common path to becoming a baker. Some bakers learn their trade through apprenticeships, or by attending technical or culinary school for 1-2 years.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org