How To Become A Baker
Career Video: Baker
Do you enjoy making cakes, cookies and breads as much as you love eating them? If the answer is yes, then you can consider a career as a baker. In this profession, you will have the opportunity to prepare and mix ingredients of different kinds of baked goodies. You will use various baking equipment to prepare baked pastries and breads. You will be working in a kitchen complete with pans, molds, sheets, mixers, blenders, grills and ovens. You will be measuring the ingredients, working on the dough, baking it and then putting toppings on the baked goods. While the dough is cooking, you will be monitoring the product to ensure that it doesn’t get burned but gets baked perfectly.
As a baker, you can expect to do tiring and physically demanding work. Kneading and rolling the dough are examples of the tasks that will require your energy and stamina. Add in the hot kitchen environment and you can expect each day to test your physical limits. The constant need to provide customers not only with delicious but good-looking pastries adds further stress to the job. Upholding quality consistently is important since your baked products are going to be sold to grocers, restaurants, wholesalers and other providers of institutional food services. If you don’t happen to maintain quality for even just one batch, your reputation can be affected adversely.
You can choose to work as a commercial baker or a retail baker. Commercial bakers are employed by firms that bake breads and pastries in bulk. You have to be comfortable working around large machines like commercial mixers and ovens. There is no room for experimentation in this role since you have to follow recipe instructions to the letter. You also have to see to it that production deadlines are met.
Retail bakers, on the other hand, are hired by grocery stores, bakeries and other stores that specialize in baked goods. Unlike commercial bakers, they produce baked goods in smaller quantities and even serve customers directly in some settings. There is room for creativity and experimentation for retail bakers because they often have to make signature pastries that customers will keep on coming back for. The personalized touch is evident especially in retail bakers who operate their own bakeshops. Bakers who own their businesses also do work not related to baking. These include hiring and training employees, ordering supplies and keeping track of inventory.
If you want to succeed as a baker, you need to have an eye for detail and measurement. The ingredients for baked goodies need to be precisely measured so that the baked goods come out and taste the way they should. As mentioned, this job is physically demanding so you need to be fit and healthy to be able to do your task well. You also need to have business savvy if operate your own pastry shop.
Why Become A Baker
A job as a baker is not for everyone. It is for those who have a passion for creating baked goods like cupcakes, cookies, cakes and other pastries. It gives you the opportunity to be inventive and create new products especially if you’re heading the pastry team at the place you’re working in or own your shop. Another reason to become a baker is that it gives you the chance to open your own bakeshop and become an entrepreneur. While the pay that bakers receive is modest, they have the opportunity to increase their income if their skills and products become popular and they are offered television appearances or even shows. They may also earn money by writing and selling their own recipe books.
Baker Work Environment
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 29 percent of bakers worked for bakeries and tortilla manufacturing firms in 2012 while 26 percent were hired by grocery stores. An estimated 15 percent worked for restaurants and other eating places, 11 percent worked for other general merchandise stores and three percent worked for specialty food stores. Around six percent of bakers were self-employed.
Being a baker can be potentially dangerous. Compared to the national average, bakers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses. This is because they work in an environment filled with hot ovens and equipment that can potentially burn and cut. Heavy lifting of sacks of ingredients can also cause back strains. In bakeshops that sell goods throughout the day, bakers can be asked to work early in the morning or late in the evening. It is common to work on weekends and holidays.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of bakers in May 2013 is $25,120. According to the agency in 2012, the highest paid bakers worked in companies engaged in bakeries and tortilla manufacturing ($23,870), followed by those working in grocery stores ($23,510) and other general merchandise stores ($22,920). In that year, the highest paid bakers received over $36,980.
Baker Career Outlook
The career outlook of bakers is slower than the national average for all job types. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022, the job outlook is set to rise six percent. Thus, from the 167,600 bakers employed in 2012, the number is expected to rise to 177,000.
The demand will be fueled by the fact that population will continue to grow and will naturally want to eat. This will require the need for more bakers. However, the job growth will be affected by the growing popularity of automated machines and mass production equipment, particularly in the area of commercial baking.
Strictly speaking there are no formal educational requirements for this profession. However, those who hold high school diplomas may opt to get formal training in a culinary school which lasts for one to two years. A lot of bakers actually don’t do so but rather learn on the job while under the apprenticeship of a seasoned baker. Some may even start their careers as assistants to experienced bakers and then become bakers themselves as their knowledge and skills of baking and baking techniques grow.
Certification is not mandatory but getting one demonstrates professionalism, knowledge and skills that can enhance a baker’s chances of being hired as a retail baker. There are various competence levels that the Retail Bakers of America certifies bakers in and those who want to obtain certification must satisfy education and experience requirements as well as pass a test. To become a Certified Journey Baker, the applicant does not need formal education in the field must have at least a year of work experience. For the Certified Baker certification, four years of work experience necessary. But to become a Certified Master Baker, the applicant must have 30 hours of sanitation work, 30 hours of professional development training an eight years of work experience.