How Can I Become a Professional Baker?

Research what it takes to become a professional baker. Learn about the job outlook, salary and training requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Professional Baker?

Professional bakers create baked goods and pastries for a living. They follow recipes, prepare mixers and ovens, measure and combine ingredients and finish any number of products required by the restaurant or other food service for which they work. They might also create new recipes or make decisions about producing goods based on the availability of ingredients and the needs of customers.

Bakers can work in a number of settings. As a professional baker, you'd have the option of working commercially to manufacture mass-produced, standard baked goods, which likely means using industrial equipment and sticking to strict recipes and production schedules. You could also be a retail baker and work in a restaurant or shop producing a smaller amount, but often a large variety, of goods. Some bakers own their own bakery or restaurant where they supervise staff, manage a budget and order ingredients in addition to the actual baking.

More information about the training options, employment projection and salary information for this career can be found in the table below.

Training Required On-the-job training; postsecondary training or an apprenticeship is optional
Key Skills Physical stamina, attention to detail, problem-solving, math
Certification Certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $24,170*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Educational Programs Are Available for Professional Bakers?

If you're interested in becoming a professional baker, you can explore several educational avenues. Community colleges and culinary schools offer both certificate and degree programs in baking and pastry arts. A certificate in professional baking can prepare you for entry-level baking or pastry assistant positions. You'll study baking science and theory while learning to prepare breads, pastries, cakes and desserts. You could also explore sanitation's role in the professional kitchen; these programs can be completed within one semester.

For a more advanced education, you may want to look into an associate's degree program in baking and pastry arts. These programs may train you for entry- to mid-level management positions in the restaurant and hospitality industries. The curricula cover the theory and practice of basic baking, and you might learn the more complicated art of French pastries and confections, including soufflés, quiches and sorbet. You can also take classes in restaurant and hospitality management issues, such as menu planning, inventory control, budgeting and cost analysis.

What Do I Need in Addition to My Education?

Professional bakers don't require state or federal certification; however, industry-standard certification is available. While not mandatory, it may help you secure a position or attain a promotion. The American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefs.org) offers four different levels of baking and pastry certification, culminating in the Certified Master Pastry Chef certification. Each level of certification includes written and practical exams that test both theoretical understanding and practical-skill proficiency. The initial certification, Certified Pastry Culinarian, requires a minimum of two years' experience as an entry-level pastry culinarian.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed that the median annual salary for bakers was $24,170 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The exact salary range for baking and pastry professionals will depend on numerous factors, including size of employer, geographical location and level of experience. For example, the top-paying states for bakers in 2015 were the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Massachusetts, per the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Professional bakers work with food and can get started in their careers by earning a certificate or degree or by gaining hands-on training. Other career options in the food service industry with similar educational requirements include working as a food and tobacco processor or cook. Cooks may have similar duties, responsibilities and work environments to bakers, but they typically produce any number of savory food products or meals, rather than pastries or baked goods. Food and tobacco processors are similar to commercial bakers because they operate machinery that mass-manufactures edible products.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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