Good baking calls for equal measures of science and art. Bakers understand the kitchen math and timing required for hearty bread and flaky croissants, but they also have the sensitivities of a painter when they are decorating a wedding cake.
If you love to bake, consider enrolling one of your area's baking vocational schools, where classes, hands-on lessons and internships may help pave the way to an opportunity as a commercial baker in a manufacturing facility or a retail baker in a specialty shop, restaurant or grocery store.
Opportunities in the oven
There are several specializations bakers with a degree or certificate from baking vocational schools or baking trade schools may choose to pursue, including:
- Opening a bread or pastry shop
- Working in the resort industry designing special desserts and showy banquet displays
- Specializing in custom baked goods, such as wedding cakes
- Working in or managing a high-volume baking facility preparing breads and pastries using industrial equipment
Certifications and degrees
Some culinary schools or baking trade schools may offer both certificate and degree programs. Students may learn kitchen science, food safety, preparation and display, baking styles, and interpersonal communication. They may learn from professionals and do an internship in a restaurant or bakery. While not required, professional bakers may be able to illustrate their expertise and training to potential employers by becoming certified through the Retail Bakers of America.
The only prerequisites for most baking vocational schools is a high-school diploma and the time to complete the program. Some baking vocational schools offer flexible schedules which may enable students to complete their programs in one to two years.
Baker career outlook and salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median pay for bakers as of May 2013 was $23,160 a year, but salary can vary depending on the industry. Here are the top five baking industries and the May 2013 national median annual wage for each:
- 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
As demand for specialty baked goods increases, the BLS predicts baking jobs should grow by 6 percent from 2012-2022.
The restaurant industry is the second largest private employer in the U.S. and is expected to add more than a million jobs in the next several years, according to the National Restaurant Association. Baking vocational schools may help some aspiring bakers gain the knowledge and skills needed to join this group of hardworking people.
Bakers, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes513011.htm
Bakers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/bakers.htm
Restaurant Careers, National Restaurant Association, http://www.restaurant.org/Restaurant-Careers
Certification Program, Retail Bakers of America, http://www.retailbakersofamerica.org/certification-program