This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Bakers prepare, bake and decorate bread, rolls, pastries, cakes and other yeast goods.
Trainee bakers usually earn
$28K-$30K per year
Qualified bakers usually earn
$30K-$45K per year
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay for bakers varies according to experience.
- Trainee bakers usually earn between the starting-out or training minimum wage and $30,000 a year.
- Qualified bakers usually earn between $30,000 and $45,000.
- Bakers working in supervisory roles can earn up to $67,000.
What you will do
Bakers may do some or all of the following:
- follow recipes and alter ingredient quantities when needed
- measure and mix ingredients
- knead, roll and shape the dough or pastry for baking, either manually or using a machine
- bake items in an oven
- prepare items for sale, including icing items or decorating cakes
- prepare customer orders and serve customers.
Skills and knowledge
Bakers need to have knowledge of:
- bakery products and ingredients
- mixing and baking processes
- icing and cake decorating
- mixing and baking equipment
- health and safety regulations.
It is also useful for bakers to know about what is happening in the market, new products being sold, and to know how to prepare the food of various cultures.
Self-employed bakers need small business skills.
- usually do shift work, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends
- work in kitchens at places such as bakeries, cake shops, hotels and restaurants
- usually work in hot and noisy environments, and have to meet strict deadlines.
What's the job really like?
Stacey Johnson - Baker
From dishwashing to a bakery apprenticeship
Stacey Johnson started working at a bakery at 21. "I needed a job so I began as a dishwasher, which led to making sandwiches and rolls."
When a vacancy later came up for a baker position, Stacey went for it. "I got the job and kicked off on my three-year apprenticeship. Earning while I learned was brilliant. We were taught the processes, so you got a clear understanding of what's actually happening when you're mixing, and when something's in the oven. We learned fancy techniques too."
Creative flair is important
Stacey says though she didn't do a lot of arty stuff at school, it’s important to have creative flair, especially if you want to get into specialty areas, like cake decorating.
Stacey now runs her own cake-decorating business, and says creativity and resourcefulness count for a lot.
"People often don't know what they want, so it's fun shaping ideas with them. I prefer making the funkier, out-there styles because you really get to express yourself, and try new things.
"I have a brother who's getting married in January and he wants a cake with five tiers! It'll be a challenge, but he knows I can’t resist!"
- Having good job opportunities.
- Getting to express your creativity.
- Getting up at the crack of dawn to bake.
- Co-ordinating the baking of a range of products, which can be stressful.
Rebekah talks about life as a craft baking apprentice - 1.12 mins. (Video courtesy of Got a Trade? Got it made!)
When I look back of photos of what I first used to make, when I first started, compared to now, it’s just amazing.
In the bakery I work five in the morning till one o’clock in the afternoon, and I love it, because you get here and it’s nice and warm, and you finish at one and you got the whole afternoon to do whatever you want.
When I look back at the choices that I made to become a baking apprentice, it was the best choice that I made. I grew up so much in that three years. I’m 20 years old and qualified and it’s just the start of my life.
I would say a baking apprenticeship is a really good thing to get into when leaving school because you get paid while you learn, and it’s so much fun, three years goes so fast and it can take you all over the world.
My name’s Bek Savage and I’m doing a craft baking apprenticeship.
To become a qualified baker you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Baking (Level 4) through Competenz.
To do an apprenticeship you need to get a job in a bakery. Completing a baking qualification at a tertiary provider may help you get a baking job.
Most employers prefer apprentices to have completed four years of secondary school. Useful subjects include English and maths.
Bakers need to be:
- careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
- practical and efficient with good organisational skills
- able to work well under pressure
- able to follow instructions
- able to work as part of a team
- able to do basic maths.
Useful experience for bakers includes work as a baker's assistant, or any food-handling work.
Bakers need to be reasonably fit and healthy, with a high standard of personal cleanliness. They also need to have good hand-eye co-ordination. It is preferred that bakers do not have any skin or breathing problems, but this can be managed so they can still work effectively.
Find out more about training
- Baking Industry Association of NZ (BIANZ)
- (03) 349 0663 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.bianz.co.nz
- email@example.com - www.competenz.org.nz
- NZ Baking Industry Research Trust (BIRT)
- (04) 496 6555 - www.bakeinfo.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Not enough qualified bakers to fill vacancies
Demand is strong for qualified and/or experienced bakers. This is because:
- experienced bakers often go overseas to work
- not enough people are completing training, such as bakery apprenticeships, to replace those leaving the job
- people are often discouraged from doing the job, or do not stay in it long, due to the early starts.
The job of baker appears on Immigration New Zealand's Immediate Skill Shortage List, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled bakers from overseas to find work in New Zealand.
Temporary assistant baker jobs common during peak periods
Many bakeries take on assistants on a temporary basis during peak periods such as Christmas.
Working as an assistant is a good way to get a taste of the job, as well as providing useful contacts for getting into the industry.
Types of employers varied
Bakers may be employed by:
- specialised bakery stores
- bakery product manufacturers
Many bakers are self-employed.
- Competenz, job information comment, September 2014.
- Competenz, 'How to become a baking apprentice', accessed September 2014, (www.competenz.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data', (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Progression and specialisations
Bakers may become supervisors or head bakers, or set up their own businesses.
Last updated 17 February 2017