Information on Baking Schools
Considering Professional Baking?
Did you know that a passion for baking can go further than just making breads and desserts at home? There is a very special niche in the workplace worth exploring for those hooked on the smell of freshly baked breads and cookies.
Professional bakers are incredibly proficient in the kitchen, making a variety of pastry and bread items. Elaborate cakes, loaves of artisanal bread, and creative cookies and treats are all created by the hands of talented bakers. Whether they make small batches of specialty products or are instrumental in producing a large quantity of baked goods, bakers must make each product perfect every time.
Have What It Takes?
At the most basic level, professional bakers must know how to follow directions, have an eye for detail, and communicate well with others. An experienced baker will understand the ins and outs of different ingredients and recipes and know how to efficiently operate the equipment commonly used in bakeries.
In addition, professional bakers may need to manage a staff, order ingredients, meet food safety regulations, and balance account books. Understanding nutrition is important in developing new recipes; having good business know-how is integral for successfully operating a small bakery.
Sound like a lot? Baking school can be a great resource for learning baking and pastry skills.
Baking School Offers Important Skills and Training
If you're thinking about a career in baking and pastry arts, school can help turn those perfect pie crusts and delicious desserts into a business. There are a variety of baking schools and degrees to help aspiring students become a professional baker.
Schools specializing in baking and pastry arts often offer diplomas, certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. These can include culinary schools with a focus in baking and pastry and vocational schools with specific baking training. In order to help students gain work experience, many programs include externships as part of their education.
Baking school can be completed in a number of weeks or a number of months, depending on the program. While diploma and certificate programs can be completed fairly quickly, their scope is limited to skills mostly used within the kitchen, such as mixing methods, decoration and display, and special pastry techniques. These programs range from four months to a year, some longer, some shorter. Students of more extensive baking degree programs acquire additional management and business skills important for later leadership and management positions. These programs can last between two to four years and give students a more well-rounded skill set.
Baking School: Is It Worth the Dough?
Many of the skills learned in baking school can be picked up in the kitchen during summer externships or on-the-job training. Some critics wonder if enrolling in an expensive baking school program is worth it, especially since salaries in the industry--particularly for new bakers--can be low.
Choosing to attend baking school doesn't have to leave anyone penniless, however. Culinary programs are offered at a number of price points--so students should find one that fits a strict budget.
If the decision is not that easy to make, researching additional options can help. A culinary school directory breaks down the schools by state and available programs (the most common is baking and pastry arts). Start by choosing a few different schools and explore what the costs will be. There are also some financial aid and scholarship options that can make programs more affordable.
Baker Salary Expectations: How to Command More
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average baker’s salary is about $25,350 annually. Many bakers start in entry-level positions and can work up to positions of higher responsibility. Salaries vary by a number of factors, including the following:
- The workplace. Restaurant or supermarket bakeries may provide more regular hours and dependable income, but head bakers in large hotels or entrepreneurs may have higher salary potential.
- Additional specialized skills. Want to specialize in French pastry? Can you decorate cakes in a unique way? Finding a niche can be useful: the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that highly skilled bakers are more sought-after by employers thanks to the rising popularity of specialty foods.
- Education level. Obtaining certification or a degree from a baking school can assure employers of having sufficient skills--something that will be quite appealing in this fast-paced job field.
Whether you gain your baking skills through a baking school or apprenticeship, becoming a top baker requires learning from others, practicing your skills, and following your heart--or your stomach.