There are many different roles in the bakery industry from head bakers, bakers, and apprentice bakers to commis bakers and pastry chefs. Below is a list of the job roles of each type of baker, and the typical salary to expect in the industry.
Typical baker salaries in the UK make around £7.83 per hour to £10 per hour. The national average salary is £16,629, but the lifetime salary can range from £13,750 to £40,000 average per year. Most bakers start around £13,750 to £17,000 annual salary. A more experienced baker such as a specialist or supervisor may see £20,000 to £25,000 per annum, and a highly experienced baker such as a plant production manager can enjoy an annual salary of £40,000. Salaries may increase when working overtime, or when doing shift work. Speciality head chefs and executive pastry chefs can earn upwards of £45,000 per year or more.
The Early Morning Start
A baking job isn't easy! Bakers regularly work 40 hours a week, and often start work very early or work nights or weekends. A typical baker may get to work around 4 or 5 am - to make sure customers have freshly baked goods by 7 or 8 am - and work until midday. The good news is that a baker's schedule is free after their morning to afternoon shift is over.
Most bakers begin by getting experience as an apprentice baker. Others may take on formal training, but either route will require you to gain experience working in a bakery before you climb the career ladder.
There are about 27,000 people who work in the baking industry in the UK. There is actually a shortage of skilled bakers, so bakers are in high demand. Many shopping centres now have more bespoke in-store bakeries, whereas plant bakery work is on the decline. Other specialist bakers may work in large hotels and restaurants.
Career Path and Progression
There's room to grow in the career either by moving up to a more exclusive hotel, or taking the more industrial route. You can become a bakery supervisor, a charge hand, or production manager. Some bakers move into roles at flour mills, or become sales representatives. Others become technical advisers, development bakers, or even design baking equipment. It may also be a dream of many bakers to set up their own business and run their own bakery. All of these are options within a baker's career path.
The main goal is to meet production goals for the baked goods. In a restaurant kitchen, that may be making the right number of tarts for the service, or in a more industrial setting it may mean producing a number of loaves.
Bread bakers prepare dough, allow them to rise, shape them, proof them, bake them, and cool them.
Pastry bakers thaw dough, shape, and fill them when needed - such as for tarts, pies, and so on.
Cake, muffin, and cupcake bakers measure batters into pans - using a scale or scoop for consistency.
Cookie bakers also use standardised scoops to measure cookie dough, or use a piping bag for softer dough.
The Non-Glam Stuff...
Bakers get to bake delicious items all day, but they also have to clean up after themselves. Bakers often alternate duties between tasks. A bread baker may start a batch of sourdough, and need to wait for the next process, so they'll do other tasks in between such as making muffin, cookie, or cake batters, cleaning equipment, and so forth.
Bakers need to prepare and package using food safety standards, and label products accordingly, using them before the best by date. Bakers need to prep ingredients daily too such as chopping fruits and nuts, pre-cooking fillings, thawing pasteurised eggs, and grinding spices.
Head Baker - £30,000+ per year
The head baker is often in charge of the production, and the other bakers in the bakery, much like a head chef. They are in charge of supervising employees, maintaining health and safety standards, coming up with menus and recipes, and so forth. Many head bakers have formal culinary training or certifications.
Commis Baker - £16,000-£32,500 per year
A commis baker reports to the head baker or head pastry chef, and is responsible for desserts and pastry items in a restaurant.
Artisan Baker - £22,000+ per year
Artisan bakers bake bread, cake, and other baked products from scratch, often for independent bakeries or in a restaurant kitchen, specialising in making a certain type of product.
Assistant Baker - £20,000+ per year
Assistant bakers help more senior bakers with their tasks in cooking and preparing breads, cakes, pastries, and other items. Assistants also help keep the kitchen clean and neat. Lift heavy sacks of flour, and operate baking machines. They may sanitise utensils, tools, and machines too.
Bread Baker - £23,000+ per year
Bread bakers bake bread and pastry as needed in the bakery. Many of these roles can be interchangeable, and the titles will depend on the specific bakery, restaurant, or hotel.
Cake Baker and Decorator - £17,300 - £37,100 per year
Cake decorators can work in large-scale or small-scale bakeries, icing cakes, and adding chocolate ganache or other sweets and finishes to cakes. Decorators need to know how to keep the cakes moist and presentable when stored and transported, and they have to use many tools and techniques in order to decorate cakes - from piping tools to dipping vats to airbrushes to carving tools, and others.
Trainee or Apprentice Baker - £15,000+ per year
Trainees or Apprentice bakers assist other bakers in the bakery with their roles.
Executive Pastry Chef - £35,000 - £45,000 per year
More exclusive restaurants and hotels may have an Executive Pastry Chef on staff who oversees dessert preparation. They often come up with menus, oversee employees, order supplies, create budgets, and maintain health and safety regulations. Many Executive Pastry Chefs have formal culinary training.
Pastry Chef (Baker Patissier) - £23,000-27,000 per year
Pastry chefs work under the Executive Pastry Chef producing baked goods and desserts for a restaurant or hotel menu. Items are usually prepared from scratch, and these chefs train and supervise others.
Pastry Chef de Partie - £23,000 - £27,000 per year
A Chef de Partie, sometimes known as a station chef, is in charge of a particular area of the bakery. In larger kitchens, this type of chef may have others working under him or her, but in smaller kitchens he or she may be the only person in that department. Chef de Partie's, for example, may have the job of making macaroons only, or baking, filling, and glazing eclairs.
Click here for Old School Women's
Suggested reading for Bakers:
- How to Improve and Maintain Health and Safety in a Bakery
Where Will You Work?
There are three types of common baking environments: plant bakeries, in-store bakeries, and craft bakeries.
Plant bakeries are large-scale automated factories - think a bread factory making standardised sliced white bread. These machines make, bake, wrap, and package the baked goods. Bakers who work in this environment may be involved in only one part of the process - for example, adding in a specified weight of flour to a mixing drum.
In-store bakeries are usually found in supermarkets. These bakers will make bread and cakes for the store. The processes are semi-automated. Think of in-store birthday cakes, or packaging bread loaves. These bakers will move items to and from the oven and package in-store products.
Craft-bakers make products for small shops or specialist shops. These bakers see a product from inception to finish. Even if these bakers use some machinery, most work is done by hand. These bakers may also be responsible for serving customers in small shops too. Think of an artisan bakery that specialises in, say, cupcakes as an example.
What does it take to Become a Baker?
You don't need formal training to become a baker, but some training helps. There are full and part time courses available. There's a Student Bakery Course Finder. Young people can also take apprenticeships in baking to break into the industry. Go to www.apprenticeships.org.uk to find apprenticeships in your area.
Many start with on-the-job training, but to advance you may need more certifications. All of those who work in a kitchen need to take food hygiene training. NVQ,s/SVQ,s in Bakery are available from levels 1-3. For those who want to specialise you can look into the BTEC National Certificate in Food Science & Manufacturing Technology (with baking options) or the SQA intermediate and higher courses on flour technology and sugar confectionery. For flour confectioners, you can try Level 2 Certificate for Pastry Chefs and Patissiers; Level 3 Diploma for Pastry Chefs and Patissiers; Certificates in Cake Decoration at Levels 1 to 3; or Certificates in Wired Sugar Flowers at Levels 1 and 2. Foundation degrees or degrees in food science, food tech, or process management may help, or going to culinary school.
Baker's salaries and roles vary as do the paths to get into the industry, but mostly you'll be responsible for baking goods and cleaning up after yourself. If this career sounds like the one for you and you'd love to spend your days mixing and making batters, cakes, cookies, and breads, then go for it!
How to keep safe in the bakery:
Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common bakery accidents; with all of that flour brandished about and potential spills from butter, eggs, and liquid sugar, the bakery floor can get messy and sticky and in the busy rush of working, there may not be time to clean it all up fast enough to prevent accidents. That's why it's vital to have the industry's best slip-resistant footwear to keep you safe. At SHOES FOR CREWS (EUROPE), LTD. we have the highest rated ISO standard shoes on the market. Slippy surfaces are no match for us and we routinely exceed industry standards by two to four times the minimum rating - and that's when tested on ceramic and steel surfaces with slippery glycerin. Your high street shoe will not keep you safe, but our shoes will get you home safe every time.
Our new sole tech keeps bakers safe: find out how.
For those seasoned pros or those new to the baking industry, it's important to have the best and safest shoes out there to get you home safe. Make sure you're wearing slip-resistant footwear in the bakery. Check out our latest tech guide to find out the best shoes to wear for bakers.