How to become a professional baker in six steps (with tips)
Does the smell of bread baking in the oven make you swoon? Is the thought of kneading dough, rolling pastry, and icing cakes more appealing than any career?
Then the life of a professional baker could be the right path for you. Learn how to become a professional baker in six steps (with tips that help you along the way).
Step 1: Develop a passion for baking
All professional bakers and pastry chefs will agree, the key to a successful career is passion. Develop a passion for baking, and you’ll find it much easier to follow the steps to become a professional baker. Although it is a skill that one can learn, it helps if you have a genuine interest in it.
No one has ever pursued a professional baking career to amass great wealth. There are other professions to meet that need. This is a career for those who simply love baking. It’s for people who find joy in learning new baking techniques, creating new recipes, and discovering new flavors.
Enthusiastic bakers watch baking shows, pore through baking magazines and feel most at home in the kitchen. If that sounds like you, you’ve already mastered step one – passion. This is what will drive you to complete the next steps to become a professional baker.
Step 2: Acquire basic baking skills
Baking is an art, yes, but it is also a type of science. Some fundamental rules underlie every successful recipe. One has to be both methodical and inspired, to be a good baker. Although you have the inspiration, you need the methods, and a formal culinary school can teach you all that.
You’ll learn about precisely measuring ingredients, and understanding ratios in recipes to adapt them for large-scale baking. You’ll also learn mixing techniques, ingredient substitutions, and so much more. Even if you are accustomed to baking for your family, you’ll need more formal training to make this your career.
Investing in reputable bakery courses is the best way to acquire basic baking skills that you know will serve you well as a professional baker. They’re also essential for building up the qualifications section on your resume, especially if you’ve never worked in the bakery industry.
Step 3: Expand your knowledge and experiment with recipes
Expand your knowledge by experimenting with recipes, and you’ll pick up some tips to be a better baker along the way. Try your hand at recipes you find online, and add a personal touch. Try incorporating new flavors into old favorites. Explore new methods and ingredients for classic dishes.
But don’t just stick to one baking style or product, give them all a chance. You may already be fantastic with cakes, but have you tried baking bread? Or what about baked desserts or cake decorating? Treat your family, friends, and neighbors to your new creations.
This helps you to become more confident about your baking skills. But don’t despair when you produce a less-than-desirable pastry or bake an unimpressive loaf. This is all a part of the learning process, and it will teach you how to do it right the next time.
Step 4: Gain professional experience
Now is the time to build that resume by gaining valuable professional experience. Many professional bakery businesses have arisen from home-based industries, and practicing at home is helpful. But you’ll learn so much more in a professional bakery.
The demands of a commercial kitchen can be more challenging than you realize. And the easiest way to learn how to meet these challenges, and become informed of industry best practices, is with an internship or apprenticeship.
By working in a thriving commercial bakery, you’ll be able to use the baking theories you’ve learned and gain practical experience. If the thought of jumping in at the deep end makes you nervous, start at a small artisanal bakery first.
Step 5: Build a professional network
Like any industry, the culinary sector benefits from networking. Find the right networking group and you’ll get even closer to your goal of becoming a professional baker. This is how you glean the precious nuggets of information only first-hand knowledge offers.
You’ll widen your support base at the same time, in the company of like-minded people. A new career path can always be daunting, but through networking, you’ll gain knowledge and camaraderie, and perhaps even a mentor.
It’s easy to connect with other professionals in this niche, once you start moving in their circles. Join professional baking groups, look for similar collectives on social media, and attend events geared towards baking.
Step 6: Consider formal education or certification
By now you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional baker. But before you start sending out job applications, consider boosting your chances with more formal education or certification.
Enquire about more professional, accredited courses where you did your beginner’s course. This will enhance your job prospects considerably. If they don’t offer what you need, do the research and find a culinary school with a more comprehensive baking program.
You may also want to further your training once you’ve applied for, and been accepted for, your first job as a baker. Like any field, the culinary industry adapts and evolves to new ideas and trends. Stay up to date with these, and you’ll have a rewarding and fulfilling career as a professional baker.