Education and Training: High school
Salary: Median—$21,330 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Bakers produce varying quantities of bread, pastries, and other baked goods for sale in establishments such as bakeries, grocery stores, and manufacturers' outlets.
In small bakeries or specialty shops, bakers bake small quantities of breads, pastries, cookies, and pies for consumers. They may also take orders and create specialty items, such as wedding and birthday cakes, for customers. They may feature foods that appeal to particular regions or that emphasize a baker's specialty. Creativity is required, because bakers create new variations of products and decorate specialty goods like wedding cakes in accordance with a customer's request.
In large-scale manufacturing operations, bakers produce goods in large quantities using industrial equipment, such as mixers and ovens. The items are then sold through distributors, grocery stores, or manufacturers' outlets.
Education and Training Requirements
Bakers do not need an advanced education. They often start as apprentices or trainees, and learn through on-the-job training or take high school or community college courses in the culinary arts before they get a job in a specialty or industrial bakery.
Bakers must also learn about nutrition, government health and sanitation regulations, operating and maintaining machinery, and production processes. If they aspire to own their own bakery, a knowledge of business and accounting is necessary.
Getting the Job
Prospective bakers should apply directly to specialty bakeries to become an apprentice, or apply to supermarkets to become a bakery trainee. High school training in the culinary arts is an advantage, as is a knowledge of baking processes, equipment, and ingredients.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Bakers may advance to supervise assistants and teach apprentices and trainees. They may eventually become head baker, and even open their own bakery.
The job outlook for bakers is good, with opportunities expected to grow as fast as the average through 2014. Although advanced and high-volume equipment has decreased the demand for bakers in the manufacturing sector, there is a strong demand for bakers in large wholesale stores, specialty shops, bagel stores, and traditional bakeries.
Mostly employed in bakeries, cake shops, grocery store bakery sections, hotels, restaurants, and cafeterias, bakers often work under hot and noisy conditions. They also may work under strict deadlines and may have to take early morning and holiday shifts. A lot of baking is done late at night or in the very early morning hours so that the product is fresh for the beginning of the business day.
Bakers may work alone, or be part of a team. They may also have to wait on customers or take special or custom orders from a customer.
Earnings and Benefits
The median annual salary for a baker is $21,330, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced bakers can earn $34,410 per year or more. Bakers working in grocery stores earn a median annual salary of $21,340, while those working in restaurants earned $19,980 per year.
Where to Go for More Information
American Bakers Association
1350 I St., Ste. 1290
Washington, DC 20005-3300
American Institute of Baking
1213 Bakers Way
P.O. Box 3999
Manhattan, KS 66505-3999
Retail Bakers of America
8201 Greensboro Dr., Ste. 300
McLean, VA 22102
Bakers employed by large grocery store chains or general stores receive benefits, such as paid vacation days and health and dental insurance. Those who own their own bakeries or work at small bakeries must provide their own benefits.