Bakers

Summary

bakers image
Bakers make a variety of breads and baked goods.
Quick Facts: Bakers
2012 Median Pay $23,140 per year
$11.13 per hour
Entry-Level Education Less than high school
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 167,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 9,400

What Bakers Do

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

Work Environment

Most bakers work in retail or commercial bakeries (manufacturing facilities), grocery stores or specialty food stores, and restaurants. Work shifts often include early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Baker

Most bakers learn their skills through long-term on-the-job training. Although no formal education is required, some learn through an apprenticeship program or by attending a technical or culinary school.

Pay

The median annual wage for bakers was $23,140 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of bakers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Highly skilled bakers with years of experience should have the best job opportunities driven by the growing demand for specialty baked products.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bakers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bakers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bakers Do About this section

Bakers
Bakers prepare various types of baked goods and apply icing.

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.

Work Environment About this section

Bakers
Bakers stand for hours preparing dough for baking.

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 manufacturing29%
Grocery stores26
Restaurants and other eating places15
Other general merchandise stores11
Specialty food stores3

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.

How to Become a Baker About this section

Bakers
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.

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.

Important 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 About this section

Bakers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Production occupations

$30,920

Bakers

$23,140

 

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 stores23,510
Other general merchandise stores22,920
Specialty food stores21,710
Restaurants and other eating places21,190

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 About this section

Bakers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Bakers

6%

Production occupations

1%

 

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.

Employment projections data for bakers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bakers

51-3011 167,600 177,000 6 9,400 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bakers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Chefs and head cooks

Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,480
Cooks

Cooks

Cooks prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods. This may include soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

See How to Become One $20,550
Food preparation workers

Food Preparation Workers

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the direction of cooks, chefs, or food service managers. Food preparation workers prepare cold foods, slice meat, peel and cut vegetables, brew coffee or tea, and perform many other food service tasks.

Less than high school $19,300
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bakers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/bakers.htm (visited September 01, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014