Bakers mix ingredients according to recipes to make breads, pastries, and other baked goods.

Duties

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 in pans, molds, or on sheets
  • Set oven temperatures
  • Place and bake items in hot ovens or on grills
  • Observe color and state of products being baked
  • Apply glazes, icings, or other toppings

Bakers produce various types and quantities of breads, pastries, and other baked goods sold by grocers, wholesalers, restaurants, and institutional food services. Some bakers create new recipes.

The following are examples of types of bakers:

Commercial bakers commonly work in manufacturing facilities that produce breads and pastries at high speeds. In these facilities, bakers use high-volume mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment to mass-produce standardized baked goods. Commercial bakers often operate 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, 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 goods 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.

Some retail bakers own bakery shops or other types of businesses where they make and sell breads, pastries, pies, cupcakes, 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 know how much to produce each day. Most retail bakers are also responsible for cleaning their work area and equipment and unloading supplies.

Is This the Right Career for You?

Not sure how to choose the best career for you? Now, you can predict which career will satisfy you in the long term by taking a scientifically validated career test. Gain the clarity and confidence that comes from understanding your strengths, talents, and preferences, and knowing which path is truly right for you.

Take The Test

 

 

 

 

 

Work Environment

Bakers held about 167,600 jobs in 2012. About 6 percent were self-employed.

The industries that employed the most bakers in 2012 were as follows:

Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing 29%
Grocery stores 26
Restaurants and other eating places 15
Other general merchandise stores 11
Specialty food stores 3

The work can be stressful because bakers often work under strict deadlines and critical, time-sensitive baking requirements.

Bakers who run their own businesses often spend long hours managing all aspects of the business to ensure bills and salaries are paid, supplies are ordered, and the business is profitable.

Injuries and Illnesses

Bakeries, especially large manufacturing facilities, are filled with potential dangers such as hot ovens, mixing machines, and dough cutters. As a result, bakers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Although their work is generally safe, bakers may endure back strains caused by repetitive lifting or moving heavy bags of flour or other packages. Other common hazards include cuts, scrapes, and burns. To reduce these risks, bakers often wear protective clothing, such as aprons and gloves.

Work Schedules

Nearly 1 in 3 bakers worked part time in 2012.

Grocery stores and restaurants, which employ more than half of all bakers, sell freshly baked goods throughout the day. As a result, bakers are often scheduled to work shifts during early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Bakers who work in commercial bakeries that bake continuously may have to work late evenings and weekends.

Education and Training

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.

Education

Although no formal education is required 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.

Training

Most bakers learn their skills through long-term on-the-job training, 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.

In manufacturing facilities, commercial bakers learn how to operate and maintain the industrial mixing and blending machines that are used to produce baked goods. They also learn how to combine ingredients and the ways in which certain ingredients are affected by heat.

Other Experience

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. 

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can show 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 specialties, 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 formal education but must have at least 1 year of work experience. A certified baker must have 4 years of work experience, and a certified master baker must have 8 years of work experience, 30 hours of sanitation course work, and 30 hours of professional development training.

Personality and Interests

Bakers typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a baker, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Bakers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Detail oriented. Bakers must closely monitor their products in the oven to keep from burning the goods. They also should have an eye for detail because many pastries and cakes require intricate decorations.

Math skills. Bakers must possess basic math skills, especially knowledge of fractions, in order to precisely mix recipes, weigh ingredients, or adjust the mixes.

Physical stamina. Bakers must stand on their feet for long periods while they prepare dough, monitor baking, or package baked goods.

Physical strength. Bakers must be able to lift and carry heavy bags of flour and other ingredients, which often can weigh up to 50 pounds.

Pay

The median annual wage for bakers was $23,140 in May 2012. 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 $17,200, and the top 10 percent earned more than $36,980.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for bakers in the top five industries employing these workers were as follows:

Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing $23,870
Grocery stores 23,510
Other general merchandise stores 22,920
Specialty food stores 21,710
Restaurants and other eating places 21,190

Nearly 1 in 3 bakers worked part time in 2012.

Grocery stores and restaurants, which employ more than half of all bakers, sell freshly baked goods throughout the day. As a result, bakers are often scheduled to work shifts during early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Bakers who work in commercial bakeries that bake continuously may have to work late evenings and weekends. 

Bakers who run their own businesses often spend long hours managing all aspects of the business to ensure bills and salaries are paid, supplies are ordered, and the business is profitable.

Job Outlook

Employment of bakers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower 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, bakeries, and restaurants.

However, employment growth of bakers will be limited as manufacturing facilities increasingly use more automated machines and equipment to mass-produce baked goods.

Job Prospects

Highly skilled bakers with years of experience should have the best job opportunities.

For More Information

For information about job opportunities, contact local employers and local offices of the state employment service.

For information on certification or training programs, visit

AIB International

Retail Bakers of America

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

I would like to cite this page for a report. Who is the author?

There is no published author for this page. Please use citation guidelines for webpages without an author available. 

I think I have found an error or innacurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. We recommend the Career Personality Profiler assessment ($29), the Holland Code assessment ($19), or the Photo Career Quiz (free).