Professional Baker: Job & Career Info

Learn about the career of professional baking. Find out the training options, necessary skills, salary possibilities and job outlook to see if this is the right job for you.

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Career Definition of a Professional Baker

Professional bakers make bread, rolls, cakes, pies, cookies and other baked goods for commercial bakeries, restaurants, stores, schools and other businesses. Baking professionally involves taking inventory and ordering ingredients, measuring, mixing, cleaning equipment and developing new recipes. Professional bakers with several years of experience typically work autonomously or supervise others.

Education Degree from a culinary arts program, completion of an apprenticeship or on-the-job training
Job Skills Attention to detail, safe food handling techniques, knowledge of sanitation practices, ability to follow recipes
Average Salary (2015)* $26,270
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 7% increase

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Graduation from culinary school is one option for entering the field of professional baking, but it is not necessary. Many professional bakers start their careers as apprentices or assistants and receive on-the-job training at supermarkets, baked good manufacturers and other specialty bakeries. Professional bakers who work as pastry chefs at fine restaurants have typically graduated from culinary school. However, most bakers in commercial bakeries and supermarkets entered the field as apprentices without formal training. Professional bakers can increase their employment opportunities by earning certification as journey or master bakers, according to the Retail Bakers of America.

Skills Required

Baking requires careful measuring of ingredients and attention to detail. While cooking is an art, baking is a science, and bakers must be able to follow directions and recipes to the letter in order to produce a mouth-watering finished product. Professional bakers must have knowledge of safe sanitation practices and food handling techniques. Working as a professional baker requires being able to tolerate hot kitchens and work early mornings or at night.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that jobs for bakers will increase by 7% from 2014-2024. Highly skilled bakers who can produce artisan products like breads, cakes and pastries will be especially in demand. In 2015, the average salary for a baker was $26,270, as reported by the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers in this field include:

Restaurant Cook

For those interested in preparing a wide variety of foods, such as entrees, soups, salads and desserts, a career as a cook might be desirable. Faster-than-average job expansion of 14% was expected for restaurant cooks from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. In 2015, restaurant cooks earned an average of $24,430 per year, the BLS reported.

Food Preparation Worker

Most of these workers learn through on-the-job training and might move on to other cooking jobs with experience. They slice meats, peel vegetables, make coffee and prepare a variety of cold foods under the supervision of cooks and supervisors. The BLS predicted 6% employment growth from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Food preparation workers took home an average of $22,050 per year in 2015, per the BLS.

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