Bakers often start as apprentices in craft bakeries or trainees in store bakeries and learn the basics of baking, icing, and decorating. Most apprentices and trainees study topics such as nutrition, safe food handling, and basic baking. Many apprentice bakers participate in correspondence study and may work toward a certificate in baking. Some bakers learn their skills through work experience related to baking. They may start as a baker’s assistant and progress into a full-fledged baker as they learn baking techniques.
In manufacturing facilities, commercial bakers must learn how to operate and maintain the industrial mixing and blending machines used to produce baked goods. Bakers need to learn how to combine ingredients and how ingredients are affected by heat. They also need to learn how to operate various types of equipment used in the production process. If running a small business, bakers need to know how to operate a business. All bakers must follow government sanitation and health regulations. The education and experience requirements vary by the level of certification desired. For example, a certified journey baker requires no formal education but must have at least one year of work experience. A certified baker must have four years of work experience, and a certified master baker must have eight years of work experience, 30 hours of sanitation coursework, and 30 hours of professional development training. All bakers should have basic knowledge of arithmetic, especially fractions, to precisely mix formulas, weigh ingredients, or make adjustments to the mixes. Bakers must often consult with other workers involved in the baking process, such as dough mixers, so they can adjust baking temperatures accordingly. Bakers must closely watch their products in the oven to keep from burning or over baking the goods. They also should have an eye for detail because many pastries and cakes require intricate decorations. Most bakers must be able to work on their feet for long periods while kneading dough and lifting heavy items.