Bakers

Summary

bakers image
Bakers make a variety of breads and baked goods.
Quick Facts: Bakers
2014 Median Pay $23,600 per year
$11.35 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 185,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 13,000

What Bakers Do

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

Work Environment

Most bakers work in retail or commercial bakeries (manufacturing facilities), grocery stores or wholesale club stores, and restaurants. Work shifts often include early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Baker

Bakers typically learn their skills through long-term on-the-job training. Although no formal education is required, some learn through an apprenticeship program or by attending a technical or culinary school.

Pay

The median annual wage for bakers was $23,600 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of bakers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Bakers with years of experience should have the best job opportunities, with employment driven by the growing demand for specialty baked products.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for bakers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bakers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bakers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bakers Do About this section

Bakers
Bakers prepare various types of baked goods and apply icing.

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

Duties

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 into pans, into molds, or onto baking sheets
  • Set oven temperatures
  • Place items into ovens or onto 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 work in manufacturing facilities that produce breads, pastries, and other baked products. In these facilities, bakers use high-volume mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment, which may be automated, to mass-produce standardized baked goods. They 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 baked products 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. Most retail bakers are also responsible for cleaning their work area and equipment and unloading supplies.

Some retail bakers own bakery shops or other types of businesses where they make and sell breads, pastries, pies, 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 decide how much to produce each day.

Work Environment About this section

Bakers
Bakers stand for extended periods while they prepare dough.

Bakers held about 185,300 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most bakers were as follows:

Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing 28%
Grocery stores 26
Restaurants and other eating places 16

About 1 in 20 bakers were self-employed in 2014.

The work can be stressful because bakers follow time-sensitive baking procedures and often work under strict deadlines. For example, bakers must follow daily production schedules to bake products in sufficient quantities while maintaining consistent quality. In manufacturing facilities, they often work with other production workers, such as helpers and maintenance staff, so that equipment is cleaned and ready.

Bakers are exposed to high temperatures when working around hot ovens. They stand for hours at a time while observing the baking process, making the dough, or cleaning the baking equipment.

Bakers who run their own business often spend additional hours managing all aspects of the business to ensure bills and salaries are paid, supplies are ordered, and the business is profitable.

Injuries and Illnesses

Bakeries, especially large manufacturing facilities, are filled with potential dangers such as hot ovens, mixing machines, and dough cutters. As a result, bakers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Although their work is generally safe, bakers may endure back strains caused by lifting or moving heavy bags of flour or other products. Other common risks include cuts, scrapes, and burns. To reduce these risks, bakers often wear back supports, aprons, and gloves.

Work Schedules

About 3 in 10 bakers worked part time in 2014.

Grocery stores and restaurants, which employed about 40 percent of bakers in 2014, sell freshly baked goods throughout the day. As a result, bakers are often scheduled to work shifts during early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Bakers who work in commercial bakeries that bake continuously may have to work late evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Baker About this section

Bakers
On-the-job training is the most common method of learning for bakers.

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.

Education

Although there are no formal education requirements 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.

Training

Most bakers learn their skills through long-term on-the-job training, typically 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 equipment that is used to produce baked goods. They also learn how to combine ingredients and how temperature and humidity affect ingredients and the baking process.

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

Certification is voluntary and shows 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 topics, 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 education but must have at least 1 year of work experience. A Certified Baker must have 4 years of work experience and 30 hours of sanitation coursework, and a Certified Master Baker must have 8 years of work experience, 30 hours of sanitation coursework, and 30 hours of professional development education.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Bakers must closely monitor their products in the oven to keep them from burning. 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 mixes.

Physical stamina. Bakers stand on their feet for extended periods while they prepare dough, monitor baking, or package baked goods.

Physical strength. Bakers should be able to lift and carry heavy bags of flour and other ingredients, which may weigh up to 50 pounds.

Pay About this section

Bakers

Median annual wages, May 2014

Total, all occupations

$35,540

Food processing workers

$25,060

Bakers

$23,600

 

The median annual wage for bakers was $23,600 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,570, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,580.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for bakers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Grocery stores $23,800
Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing 23,520
Restaurants and other eating places 22,730

About 3 in 10 bakers worked part time in 2014.

Grocery stores and restaurants, which employed about 40 percent of all bakers in 2014, sell freshly baked goods throughout the day. As a result, bakers are often scheduled to work shifts during early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Bakers who work in commercial bakeries that bake continuously may have to work late evenings and weekends. 

Bakers who run their own businesses often spend additional hours managing all aspects of the business to ensure bills and salaries are paid, supplies are ordered, and the business is profitable.

Job Outlook About this section

Bakers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Bakers

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Food processing workers

3%

 

Employment of bakers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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, retail bakeries, and restaurants.

However, employment of bakers is projected to decline in food manufacturing as these facilities increasingly use automated machines and equipment to mass-produce baked goods.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities will be very good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation every year. Bakers with years of experience, particularly in preparing specialty baked products, should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for bakers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bakers

51-3011 185,300 198,300 7 13,000 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bakers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2014 MEDIAN PAY Help
Chefs and head cooks

Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,610
Cooks

Cooks

Cooks prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods, which may include soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

See How to Become One $21,120
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.

No formal educational credential $19,560
Food and tobacco processing workers

Food and Tobacco Processing Workers

Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacture of food and tobacco products.

See How to Become One $26,230
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bakers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/bakers.htm (visited February 12, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,540.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,547.