Should I Consider a Career in Baking?
Apr 1, 2015 | 8:00 am
A career in baking doesn’t require any specialized training, and in some cases, doesn’t even require a high school diploma. If you’re trying to decide on a career in baking, you should weigh your goals against the realities of the industry. As with most careers, it will benefit you greatly to obtain formal training or education, even though it may not be strictly required. Here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about a career in baking.
Training and Education
While it’s possible to work as a baker with no formal education or training, you will likely end up on the low end of the salary bell-curve (more about that in the next section). Most culinary arts schools offer concentration routes in baking and pastry. The line between a baker and a pastry chef may seem quite fuzzy, but there really is a difference—a pastry chef is a baker who is also in charge of the other bakers. The pastry chef and bakers may have similar education or the pastry chef may have more education or formal training than the bakers working under them. Since we’re talking about bakers in general we don’t need to go into more details about the differences now.
If you choose to pursue formal culinary arts education or training, you will normally spend two years earning an Associate’s Degree in either Culinary Arts with a concentration in pastry and baking, or a degree in Pastry and Baking. There are a number of schools around the country that offer specialized training in pastry and baking. One such school, The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, offers a diploma program from their School of Pastry & Baking Arts.
Salary Expectations and Career Outlook
Like with most careers, salary expectations for bakers can vary widely depending on the industry you choose and the amount of formal training and education you have. The median annual wage for bakers in the United States was $23,140, in 2012. This is over $11,000 less than the median wage for all occupations in the country. With 1/3 of all bakers working part-time, this explains the skewing of the median wage numbers a bit, but this high percentage of part-time workers should be considered when looking at a career in baking. The majority of these part-time bakers entered the industry with little or no formal education. Median annual wage can be broke down by industry as well, showing that bakers working in bakeries and tortilla manufacturing earn significantly higher median annual wages ($23, 870) than bakers working in restaurants and other eating places ($21,190).
The good news is that the top 10% of all bakers earns more than $36,980 per year. On the low end of the scale are the bakers who earn less than $17,200 per year.
If you are considering a career in baking, you need to keep in mind that while the industry has low entry requirements, it will always benefit you to have formal education or training. The next step to a career in baking should be a trip to your local culinary school.