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Baking as a career

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Bagels, baguettes, breadsticks and buns. Whatever the toppings and whichever the type, bread is an intrinsic part of food culture worldwide.

Who do we have to thank for this simple but versatile treat, sitting snuggly within the classic food pyramid? Bakers! Labouring over glowing ovens to bring us the food we know and love, bakers work to provide us with warm bread amongst other tasty treats. You may be a sweet tooth, a crafty hobbyist or simply love the smell of warm bread, but if you’re interested in a career in baking, look no further. This article will cover everything you need to know about starting your journey as a baker, from honing your skills to nabbing that prized apprenticeship. 

What does a baker do? 

It may seem pretty clear what bakers do, but working as a baker can be more involved and multifaceted than simply making bread. The process of making bread itself requires a lot of effort and thought, with the wide variety of types already expanding the responsibilities of a baker.

Bakers make many different treats such as rolls, loaves, pastries, pies, cookies, muffins and cakes, amongst many more and each of these baking products require different baking techniques and ingredients. Whilst cooking, a baker will:

  • follow health and safety guidelines
  • use machinery for mixing the dough
  • maintain oven temperatures
  • weigh out ingredients 
  • mix and shape ingredients

However, bakers also participate in many cleaning, maintenance, and customer service tasks, ranging from ordering raw materials, quality control, work area cleaning, routine maintenance, cashier duties, packaging, and fulfilling customer orders.

Ultimately, working as a baker can be a fast-paced and labour-intensive profession suited to early risers — some food for thought if you’re less inclined to waking up early.

Baker vs pastry chef

With their large number of responsibilities and tasks, it’s not uncommon for bakers to be confused with pastry chefs; however, there are some notable differences between the two.

The word chef is the easiest way to distinguish between bakers and pastry chefs, originating from the French “chef de cuisine”, which means “chief of the kitchen”. So, where a baker works within a bakery, a pastry chef can effectively manage or lead. Furthermore, pastry chefs may work in restaurant settings, focusing more on quality rather than quantity and producing intricate desserts and specialist pastries such as torten, gateaux, mousses, bavaroise and more. Our Certificate III in Cake and Pastry (Apprenticeship) is an excellent entry into pastry techniques and offers gateaux, tortes, and entremets production electives.

Skills of a baker

Now you know what a baker is, what does it take to be a baker? There are many technical skills required to be a successful baker, and these are better supported with the appropriate soft skills. Some skills you can benefit from are:

  • Monitoring skills: Keeping track of multiple baking processes at once is key to the bakery’s smooth and safe operation.
  • Teamwork: Mindfully working alongside other bakers with adherence to safety and hygiene procedures to ensure that everyone works efficiently.
  • Hand-eye coordination: Safely carry hot or heavy items and apply detailed designs or toppings to baked goods.
  • Health and safety: Maintain both personal and workspace hygiene to ensure that health standards are met.
  • Multi-tasking: Manage multiple cooking tasks simultaneously with consideration to time management.
  • Customer service: Attend to customers and practice active listening to ensure that orders and dietary requirements are met to a high standard.

With these skills and a passion for food, aspiring bakers can lead a successful career with the help of a baking qualification.

Baking courses

One of the most helpful steps to working as a baker is acquiring a qualification that can equip you with the skills to confidently and successfully navigate the bakery floor. All baking courses offered by SWTAFE are accompanied by hands-on learning through apprenticeship work, meaning that your skills will be meaningfully practised and applied in an actual workplace. At SWTAFE, we offer three core certificates in this field:

  • Certificate III in Cake and Pastry (Apprenticeship)

    This course is delivered in up to three years through workplace training, with a minimum of three face-to-face visits and a mandatory three-day workshop on campus each year. During this certificate, you’ll learn baking techniques focusing on the production of cakes and pastries. During this course, you will learn how to make non-laminated pastry products, laminated pastry products, biscuits, cookies, cakes and puddings. You’ll also have electives in gateaux, tortes, entremets and meringue production, which will teach you entry-level pastry chef techniques.

    For entry into this course, you will need to attain employment as an apprentice or trainee with a registered employer specialising in cake and pastry production. Our Skills and Jobs Centre can provide you with further information and advice if you need assistance acquiring work.

  • Certificate III in Bread Baking (Apprenticeship)

    Delivered in up to three years through workplace training, this course has the same face-to-face and workshop requirements as our Certificate III in Cake and Pastry. This certificate focuses on the bread side of baking, where you will learn savoury, sweet and artisan bread production. You’ll also gain the opportunity to learn about the cultural, religious and dietary considerations used in food production.

    This course has the same entry requirements as the Certificate III in Cake and Pastry, except the place of employment must be specialised in bread and yeast goods instead of cakes and pastries. 

  • Certificate III in Baking (Apprenticeship)

    Our Certificate III in Baking is a more extensive jack-of-all-trades course, delivered in up to three-and-a-half years through workplace training and the same workshop requirements as our other two baking courses. The Certificate III has learning outcomes in bread, cakes and pastries, combining units from the Certificate III in Cake and Pastry and the Certificate III in Bread Baking to form a comprehensive course in baking.

    For entry into this course, you are required to be employed in the relevant field before commencement.

All baking certificates offered by SWTAFE require an apprenticeship, but how do you go about that, and what does an apprenticeship entail?

Baking apprenticeships

A baking apprenticeship is, like any apprenticeship, a form of training where you earn as you learn. This training method is especially beneficial for hands-on career paths like baking, where honing your hand-eye coordination and stamina is crucial to this fast-paced and labour-intensive industry. Additionally, apprenticeships prepare you for the industry and help you establish a direct network, with many successful apprentices moving on to further employment with their registered employer.

There are various ways that you can go about acquiring an apprenticeship, such as:

  • Student services: our team at the Skills and Jobs Centre can help you with your resume and provide advice and assistance on finding an apprenticeship.
  • Online job-seeking: using a number of online portals and websites to look at job listings as you would for any regular employment opportunities.
  • Word-of-mouth: voicing your ambitions to your friends and family can offer many opportunities.
  • In-person: doing some of the legwork and getting in contact with employers can show initiative and drive.

Baker apprenticeship wage

Beginning an apprenticeship is an exciting milestone in your journey to becoming a fully-fledged baker. Still, it’s essential to note the details and ensure that you clearly understand your rights when entering employment. As an apprentice, you are provided with the same rights as other employees within your industry, including holidays and wages. Apprentices are paid according to their employment length, industry experience, age, schooling and applicable industry award. This information is easily accessed at the Fair Work Ombudsman PACT tool. This pay calculator lets you input your details and receive an accurate estimate of your relevant award and pay rates. 

On average, payscale.com records a bakery apprentice’s annual pay as $34,349 per annum. According to payscale.com, following your apprenticeship, if you’re aiming to make a baking job your bread and butter, you can look forward to an average salary of $53,626 per year.

Becoming a baker is a rewarding and exciting career path, sprinkled with tasty treats along the way. If you don’t mind waking up early, the smell of bread and a toasty warm workplace, working as a baker might be for you. Contact our team at SWTAFE to begin discussing your study options — let’s get baking!