Become a Commercial Baker: Education and Career Roadmap

Should I Become a Commercial Baker?

Commercial bakers produce large quantities of standardized baked goods for distribution to resale or wholesale markets. These bakers use a variety of skills, including ingredient combination and recipe crafting, to create goods such as cookies, breads, cakes and pies. Commercial bakers learn to operate a variety of large machines, such as mixers and conveyor belts. Work can be physically demanding and hazardous, leading to a higher level of injuries and illnesses than the average occupation.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Not required, though postsecondary education is helpful
Degree Fields Baking or culinary arts
Licensure and Certification Certification by the Retail Bakers of America is voluntary
Experience On-the-job training or apprenticeship
Key Skills Ability to communicate effectively, attention to detail, mathematics skills
Salary (2014) $23,600 per year (Median annual wage for all bakers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Obtain Training or Education in Baking

There is no mandatory level of education necessary to become a commercial baker. However, formal training can familiarize novices with production processes and equipment. Baking programs offered through community colleges and culinary institutes generally cover nutrition, baking techniques and recipe development. These courses may be offered as individual professional development, personal enrichment sessions or as part of a complete certificate or degree program. Culinary arts programs usually offer a concentration in baking, commercial food production or a combination of both. Baking programs typically encompass hundreds of class hours working with ingredients and machinery.

Step 2: Gain Professional Experience

While educational routes may be optional, on-the-job training is mandatory in this field. Candidates may begin their careers as apprentices or trainees in order to learn basic baking skills such as proper ingredient combinations, icing, decorating and crafting. An apprentice baker usually begins work in a smaller boutique under the supervision of one mentor, while trainees often gain their first job experience working in retail stores or food processing plants.

Success tip

  • Develop basic math skills. Commercial bakers will need to be exact when mixing and weighing ingredients, as well as adjusting formulas.
  • Learn how to operate baking machinery. Commercial bakers need to proficiently operate machines used in the profession, which are usually industrial size.
  • Study government regulations for baking. Commercial bakers must follow health and sanitation regulations mandated by the government.

Step 3: Consider Certification

The Retail Bakers of America (RBA) offers voluntary certification at four competence levels. Those levels include journey baker, certified baker, certified decorator and certified master baker. The lowest competence level, journey baker, requires no institutional education, but rather a minimum of one year of experience. The master baker certificate requires a minimum of eight years' experience, completion of baking sanitation coursework and at least 30 hours of professional development. Each certification covers a broad array of areas, such as baking management, sanitation, sales and staff training.

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