What Bakers Do

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


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.

How to Become a Baker

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.


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.


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.

Job Outlook


Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations




Production occupations








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


51-3011 167,600 177,000 6 9,400
  Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
Chefs and head cooks Chefs and head cooks

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants or 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.'

No Formal Education Is Required $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

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