How to Become a Baker
On-the-job training is the most common method of learning for bakers.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.