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  1. As a baker you could be working in a factory, in a bakery or as an independent artisan baker or patisserie chef
  2. Duties can involve handling machinery, dealing with orders and ensuring quality standards are met at all times
  3. You will also be expected to follow strict health and safety rules
  4. While you will normally work 40 hours a week, early morning starts are extremely common
  5. It's possible to work as a baker without any formal qualifications, though most employers will want some basic maths skills
  6. However, many UK colleges offer HNDs in baking-related subjects, allowing you to gain specialist skills and boost your prospects
  7. Pay for bakers can be as low as £12,000 a year, though senior factory managers can earn £40,000 and a select few artisans much more

What Do Bakers Do?

Quite simply, bakers, make bread and a wide range of other products such as cakes and doughnuts. However, not all bakers work in the same way. While you may well work in a shop such as a supermarket or even an independent bakery, you could just as likely find work in a large factory. Alternatively, if you have the skills, you could work as an artisan baker, making high-quality products on a much smaller scale. Wherever you work, some of your main responsibilities are likely to include:

  • Taking orders and working out how much of each ingredient will be needed to complete each order
  • Making use of modern machinery, including large-scale factory machines
  • Ensuring all products meet strict quality standards and all orders are completed on time and to budget
  • Following strict health and safety guidelines and ensuring colleagues do likewise

Generally speaking, unless you work as an artisan baker and have a big order to complete, you will work a 40-hour-week. However, the work can involve very early starts, while some factories and other large producers will expect their staff to work on a rota basis.

Skills and Qualifications

It's possible to work as a baker without any formal qualifications. In fact, many bakers do just that, learning most of their skills on-the-job over several years. That said, employers will almost always ask that you have at least some basic literacy and especially some maths skills, so a few good GCSEs will always be an advantage.

If you don't want to work your way up from a basic, entry-level position, then you could undertake some specialist vocational training. A number of UK colleges offer relevant courses. These include:

  • HNC/HND in Baking and Food and Drink Processing
  • Level 2 Certificate in General Patisserie and Confectionery
  • Level 2 Diploma in Professional Bakery

Alternatively, you could try and get an Apprenticeship. This will allow you to earn a little more while you train and, hopefully, have a job at the end of it. Visit the official Apprenticeships website to learn more about the scheme and to find an employer happy to support new talent near you.

Aside from formal training, you will also be expected to have a wide range of relevant skills and personal attributes if you want to be a baker. These may include

  • A genuine passion for baking and a genuine ability in this area
  • A hardworking and reliable nature; early morning starts are essential, so you have to be fine with this
  • The ability to work under pressure and to meet strict deadlines
  • A willingness to work as part of a team as well as the ability to work well under your own initiative
  • A good understanding of health and safety rules and regulations and a commitment to adhering to them

Training and Career Development

Once you have started working as a baker, there are a number of ways you can push your career forward.

For instance, if you work in a factory, with time and experience, you may be able to take on more responsibility and could eventually end up in a supervisory or management role. Many larger employers will be happy to support your development, particularly if you show a strong desire to stay within the company.

As well as taking on greater levels of responsibility, you could enhance your baking skills. The Federation of Bakers has been helping train bakers for more than 200 years and now offers a wide range of short courses, all of which you will be able to complete alongside a full-time job. Check out their website for more information. Additionally, specialising in high-end products such as artisan breads or pastries could help boost your earnings.

Finally, if you have the skills, experience, confidence and business acumen, you could choose to go it alone and set up a small-scale artisan baking company. Not only wil; you be able to be your own boss, but the potential rewards on offer are much higher than those available to employees.

Pay and Benefits

Factory-based bakers can earn between £12,000 and £18,000 a year, with those working shifts and unsocial hours tending to be at the higher end of this range. Again, with extra experience and as you take on more responsibilities, you may be able to earn more, with factory managers potentially earning around £40,000 a year.

As an artisan baker, meanwhile, your earnings will entirely depend on how successful your small business is. You could earn nothing or, at most, just the National Minimum Wage or, if your products prove a hit, you could earn considerable amounts of money.

Alongside any financial incentives, working as a baker could also give you the chance to make money while indulging your passion for good food and it could also allow you to work with like-minded people in a vibrant, creative environment.

Possible Downsides

Working as a baker can be tough and physically demanding. Apart from the early starts – all-but essential in smaller bakeries – you will probably be working in a hot, dusty environment, making it far from ideal if you suffer from allergies. Added to this, the work can be stressful if you have large orders to meet, while if you go freelance you have to deal with all the stresses that come with starting a small business from scratch, including a lack of guaranteed income.

Finding Work

If you're just starting out, then the best place to look for basic bakery jobs is by searching on our site, if that fails then find your local Jobcentre Plus. Here, you'll be able to contact them to set up an appointment.

Alternatively, you could try finding work through specialist recruitment firms. These are particularly useful if you a skilled and experienced baker. Careers in Food and Drink provides links to a number of the leading recruitment sites, allowing you to find specialist baker jobs all over the country.

Further Reading

Learn more about getting certified in food hygiene through the Food Standards Agency website

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