How to Become a Bakery Chef

A bakery chef is an expert in preparing desserts, baked goods, and other treats for restaurants and cafes.

If you love to bake and are passionate about dessert, then you might like to become a pastry chef.

Bakery chefs are seen as being the leaders in their field.

While a chef prepares savory meals, a bakery chef specializes in breads and desserts.

A good bakery chef knows not only how to create treats that are tasty, but ones that are appealing to the eye as well.

They must have a very fine attention to detail, good manual dexterity, and a strong drive towards success and even perfection.

The best bakery chefs see their work as an art form.

Education Requirements to Become a Bakery Chef

There are many different pathways you can follow to become a bakery chef.

Many are self taught.

They learn how to bake at home, and perfect their art over time.

Others complete apprenticeships as chefs, bakers, or bakery chefs and learn on the job.

Some may attend culinary school to learn the art of cooking in an educational setting, then move on to a job afterwards.

If you would like to become a bakery chef, the first step is to take a good look at your current circumstances.

If you are currently in high school, the best way for you to achieve this goal would be an apprenticeship or vocational school.

After you have completed this you can climb the career ladder in the hospitality industry until you attain the position of bakery chef.

If you are a self-taught baker, you might be able to gain a job already, or even an assistant’s role.

A good way to get your foot in the door is to make a photo portfolio of your work and take it around to cafes and restaurants.

You might even like to bake at home and try to sell your cakes to cafes directly.

If you are really serious, then you might like to attend a culinary school that specializes in working as a bakery or pastry chef.

There are only a handful of these around the world.

Bakery Chef Job Description

A bakery chef works to prepare specialty cakes, desserts, bread and other sweet treats.

They usually have experience as a cook or chef, and move on to specialize in this role later in their careers.

When you become a bakery chef, you may find yourself rising early to prepare the desserts for the day.

You may also have to work split shifts, or odd hours on nights and weekends, depending on your type of employer.

A bakery chef also needs to be continually coming up with new ideas and recipes.

It’s likely that you will be responsible for coming up with a daily special.

Here are some of the tasks that a bakery chef might be responsible for:

  • Planning out menus
  • Preparing desserts
  • Researching and testing new recipes
  • Communicating with other chefs and staff
  • Ordering ingredients
  • Sourcing new ingredients
  • Cleaning

Bakery Chef Salary and Career Path

Your first job working as a bakery chef might be as a cafe, restaurant, hotel, or bakery.

It’s likely that you won’t get to create the desserts and pastries of your imagination just yet.

To begin with you’ll be working on the basic stuff, and probably be doing the dishes too.

With a bit of experience, you could expect to advance through the ranks and be able to take on more responsibility within your role.

Over time you will gain a reputation for your work, and may be able to gain a role as a bakery chef for an exclusive restaurant or hotel.

Some bakery chefs can become very well known and even open their own restaurants.

Some may become celebrity chefs, starring in a cooking show or releasing their own cook book.

According to BLS.gov, the median salary of chefs in this field is around $40,000 a year.

The top 10% of earners made closer to $70,000 a year, while those just starting out might expect around $23,000.

Some similar roles to that of a bakery chef include:

Working as a bakery chef may require long and unusual hours of work, as well as a few years of experience beforehand to gain the position.

However, for those that pursue this role, good job security and a challenging work environment are available.

There is also good opportunity to grow within this role and to take on professional development.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bakery chef?

Bakery chefs specialize in preparing bread and sweet goods using flour as the main ingredient.

They spend most of their workday kneading, rolling, cutting, shaping the dough and decorating the baked goods.

Bakery chefs must be detail-oriented and have good communication and leadership skills.

They also need a keen sense of smell and taste and dexterity.

Physical stamina is also required because bakery chefs may work many hours on their feet.

How much does a bakery chef make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for chefs and head cooks, in general, was $48,460 in May of 2018.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,320, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,150.

How much a bakery chef makes depends on their level of experience and their employer.

How much does it cost to become a bakery chef?

Most bakery chefs learn through on-the-job training.

They may also learn their skills through apprenticeship programs or by attending a two-year or a four-year program at a college or cooking school.

A two-year associate’s degree program can range between $10,000-$40,000 a year, depending on the school you choose.

Four-year bachelor’s degree programs cost from $35,000 to more than $100,000 per year.

Although not required, a certificate offered by the Retail Bakers of American can show to a potential employer that you have the skills needed for being hired as a bakery chef.

RBA offers four levels of certification.

The certification exam costs $50-$75 for Certified Journey Bakers and up to $1,000 for the level of Certified Master Baker.

What is the demand for bakery chefs?

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the demand for chefs is expected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As the demand for baked goods grows, this will increase the number of bakeries and the demand for bakery chefs.

However, the competition is expected to be strong and holding a degree and/or a certificate in the bakery field can help you get an advantage over your competitors.

How long does it take to become a bakery chef?

Although there are no strict requirements to become a bakery chef, getting a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in bakery and pastry arts can teach you the skills you need to be successful in this field.

Getting certified by the Retail Bakers American is also a way of proving your skills to a potential employer.

The RBA offers four levels of certification: Certified Journey Baker, Certified Baker, Certified Decorator and Certified Master Baker.

The education and experience requirements vary depending on the certification you want to obtain.

In order to become a Certified Journey Baker, you need a minimum of one year of experience, while a Certified Master Baker needs at least four years of work experience.

The certification exam consists of written and practical tests.

Practical tests are organized several times a year.

Once your application is accepted, you will have two years to obtain your certification.

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