If you want to become a professional baker, you’re going to need to get some education and training first, even if you’ve mastered the art of baking at home. There are many different types of bakers working in restaurants, hotels, resorts, cruise ships, cafes, bakeries, patisseries, cake shops and many other types of businesses. Some bakers strike out on their own and open their own businesses, as well. Bakers may also choose a specialty, such as artisanal bread, or work on the more elegant side of things as a pastry chef. Whether you’re baking cakes, cookies, pastries, pies or any other type of sweet or savory baked item, a combination of education, hands-on training, professional experience and simple good taste will take you where you want your career to go.
Culinary School Requirements for Baking Careers
While there are not degree or certification requirements for many baking jobs, you will be much better off if you complete at least an apprenticeship program, if not a culinary degree program. The Retail Bakers of America also offers four levels of professional certification. Employers will always be pleased to see more proof of your completion of culinary school requirements, training and skill level when you’re applying for baking jobs. Experience really is the most important aspect of your résumé, though. Apprenticeships and internships provide excellent experience. This means working for free for a while, though, so don’t quit your day job while training to work in this industry. Also, consider whether you really have what it takes before you start cooking school or begin a baking apprenticeship. Bakers must be detail-oriented, proficient in basic math, familiar with baking equipment, able to stay on their feet for hours on end and ready to lift heavy materials and equipment.
Earn a Certificate and Really Go Places
Although certification is not necessarily one of the requirements for baking careers, it’s a good idea to complete this step as you embark on your new career. If you are applying for a job and the competition is certified, but you’re not, this could mean the difference between getting hired and going back to the want ads. These are the four levels of certification offered by the Retail Bakers of America:
You can’t just automatically apply for certification as a Master Baker right out of school; this level requires much more experience. The CJB designation is intended for recent culinary school graduates and apprentices without much work experience. The CB designation is intended for those with some experience, and once you have really proved yourself with a high level of experience, you may qualify for the CMB designation. If you are able to complete the exam and other certification requirements, you may be able to earn better pay and could have more job opportunities available to you.