Bakers work in bakeries or bakeshops and spend their days making delicious baked goods for customers to enjoy. A baker does much more than open a box of cake mix and go to work. The key phrase for most bakers is “from scratch.” This means that good bakers can take flour, eggs, butter, and milk, and transform them into birthday cakes or strudel.
Bakers need a good eye for detail because they spend much of their time following recipes and weighing, measuring, and mixing ingredients. Incorrect measurements don't result in dishes that taste good in the baking world, so bakers need to be precise in their calculations. The sign of a great baker is one who can improvise ingredients or add his or her own special touch to a common recipe. However, many bakeries request that bakers follow only preselected recipes.
Safety is a big concern for any baker. The temperatures of baking ovens are extremely hot, and the simple process of placing a baking tray in an oven can become dangerous if safety precautions are not followed. The heat from the ovens also makes bakery kitchens extremely warm, which can be a difficult environment to work in.
Bakeries usually order ingredients in large quantities to keep a sufficient amount on hand at all times. A bakery without flour might as well not be open for business. Large bags of flour or cornmeal are heavy. Combined with the stress of standing on one's feet for a ten- to twelve-hour day, bakers run the risk of straining their backs from lifting and stooping often.
Bakers often work long hours and have to be up very early. This is not a career for late sleepers. Many bakeries that open to the public at 8 AM have had their ovens working for a few hours before that, concocting the freshest pastries and rolls for customers who demand quality. The average baker at a local bakery works at least a forty-hour workweek.
Some bakeries may employ more than one baker; this is usually the case for larger bakeries. There are also some experienced bakers who may eventually perform only one job. Your local bakery will most likely have a baker or two and possibly an assistant. Bakers can also write for food magazines, as well as instruct classes in vocational and culinary schools. A few may even have the opportunity to appear on local or national cooking shows on television.
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