While formal education is not a requirement to get a job in a bakery, there are steps you can take to become more qualified for a position, such as an apprenticeship or attending culinary school.
To get a job in a bakery, a person usually needs a high school diploma; however, positions in a bakery may be available to those with no prerequisites. A passion for baking and baked goods is a benefit. Candidates can aim to start with an entry-level job or apprenticeship and consider attending culinary school.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Other Requirements||Apprenticeship or culinary school|
|Projected Job Growth||5% from 2019-2029 for bakers*|
|Mean Salary (2020)||$31,060 annually for bakers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Getting a Job in a Bakery
Step 1: Graduate from High School
While it's not necessary to have a formal education to work in a bakery, potential employers usually prefer candidates with at least a high school diploma. Prospective bakers and bakery employees need to be capable of reading and follow directions, as well as handling inventory. They need to be able to understand recipes and perform basic math functions necessary for measuring ingredients or handling the cash register.
Step 2: Experiment with Baking
While prior experience may not be required, most bakers enter the field with an interest in baking. They usually start out in their own kitchens, where they experiment with recipes and develop a knack for baking. Aspiring bakers can hone their skills by trying to make bread, cakes, cookies, pies, cupcakes and more. Candidates with a passion for food can hone their skills and educate themselves by reading magazines and cookbooks to stay abreast of new trends and technologies in the baking industry. They can practice developing patience and attention to detail.
Step 3: Meet Physical Requirements
Working in a bakery requires standing for long hours, sometimes in the middle of the night or the very early morning. Candidates need to be able to bend down and withstand hot oven temperatures. Bakers also need to be capable of making repetitive movements like mixing batter or kneading dough.
Step 4: Find an Entry-Level Job or Apprenticeship
Many novice bakers start their careers in entry-level roles at small bakeries or large supermarkets. Others work in the back of restaurants. To get a job at a small establishment, a candidate may want to consider approaching the owner directly. He or she may offer to accept a candidate for an apprenticeship rather than a job. This means a person can learn a trade and gain experience without being paid.
For jobs at larger stores or chains, aspiring bakers can look for employment listings online and apply through the company's human resources department. New bakery employees are usually required to perform tasks like sweeping the floor, cleaning ovens and cleaning glass windows or counters. Aspiring bakers can work their way up from smaller tasks to roles with more responsibility.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 5% change in employment of bakers during the 2019-2029 decade. This small rise was due to the continued demand for baked goods, although the automation of manufacturing equipment limited the employment increase for the category. Bakers earned a mean salary of $31,060 in 2020, per the BLS.
Step 5: Consider Culinary School
Aspiring bakery employees may find it useful to attend culinary school, where they can specialize in pastry and baking. Most schools offer 2-year associate's degree programs; however, some schools have 4-year bachelor's degree programs as well. Course topics may include food safety, sanitary techniques, food purchasing, dough, pastry, creams, fillings, icings and plated desserts. Many programs include an externship in their curriculum. Students are able to earn school credit for working in a bakery or restaurant as they gain valuable, hands-on experience.
Developing a personal interest and knowledge of baking is a solid first step toward getting a job in a bakery. Additional experience can be pursued through an apprenticeship or culinary school. Bakers need to be able to stand for long periods of time, complete repetitive movements and work around hot temperatures.