So what does a baker do?
Bakers produce various bread and confectionery products and usually work in one of three types of baking environments.
Baking in a craft bakery, a baker will bake products on a smaller scale to be sold in a small shop or chain of specialist baking shops. The baking is more varied and although some machinery is used, more of the baking is done by hand.
Baking in an in-store bakery - which is usually part of a supermarket - involves using some automated machinery to make fresh bread products to be sold in the store.
Baking in a plant bakery involves the use of machinery and production lines to manufacture large amounts of baked goods for shops, supermarkets and other major consumers.
What's the working environment like working as a baker?
Bakers work 39 hours a week over five days, with very early starts. Plant bakeries usually operate shifts on a rota system which will include nights and weekends. In- store or craft bakers usually work Saturdays.
The work involves a lot of standing, lifting and carrying trays and heavy sacks of flour, although lifting equipment is widely used.
Bakeries are noisy and dusty. Those with asthma, an allergy to dust, or some skin conditions may find this kind of work unsuitable. There are strict health, safety and hygiene requirements and employers usually supply protective clothing such as hats and overalls.
What does it take to become a baker?
To be a baker, you should:
be numerically accurate for measuring ingredients, ordering supplies and calculating cooking times
be manually skilled and creative for moulding dough and decorating confectionery products
be able to work quickly and meet time deadlines
have good organisational skills
be aware of safety and hygiene regulations concerning food production and machinery operation
be physically fit.
Advice straight out the oven
Howard Middleton, of Great British Bake Off fame took time out of the kitchen to give us some baking advice...
'It’s virtually impossible to get things right every time, but it’s about learning what went wrong and why, so you can avoid making the same mistake next time. I’ve done countless demos since being on the Bake Off and there’s nearly always something that goes wrong, but people seem to love that because it shows you are human!'
Baking career opportunities
Qualified bakers can earn promotion to bakery supervisor, chargehand or production manager. Formal qualifications may not be required as senior positions are more dependent on demonstrating ability and commitment. It may be necessary to move around the country to gain experience for promotion. It is also possible to work abroad as a baker.
Experienced bakers might choose to work for a flour-mill or bakery equipment company as a sales representative, technical adviser or as a test baker, developing different baking techniques. Some move into teaching baking skills in a college or training centre.
Craft bakers with experience could set up and run their own bakery business.
Watch our video
Jade and Oscar explain what education is needed to become a baker...
If you would like to know anything about baking that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
The Federation of Bakers
6 Catherine Street
Tel: 020 7420 7190
Scottish Association of Master Bakers
4 Torphichen Street
Tel: 0131 229 1401