Bakers prepare, bake and decorate bread, rolls, pastries, desserts, cakes and slices.
Qualified bakers usually earn
$23-$30 per hour
Source: careers.govt.nz research, 2023
Pay for bakers varies according to experience.
- Unqualified bakers usually earn the minimum wage.
- Qualified bakers can earn between minimum wage and $30 an hour.
- Bakers working in supervisory roles can earn more than this.
Sources: careers.govt.nz research, 2023.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Bakers may do some or all of the following:
- follow recipes and change ingredients 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
- knowledge of baking and decorating processes
- knowledge of food hygiene, health and safety regulations
- ability to follow recipes
- ability to handle machinery and equipment.
Self-employed bakers also need small business skills.
- usually do shift work, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends
- work in kitchens at places such as bakeries, cake shops, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants
- usually work in hot and noisy environments, and have to meet strict deadlines.
What's the job really like?
Pastry chef video
Anushka Dias Aaron talks about life as a pastry chef - 2.12 mins.
As a pastry chef, my main job is baking. I bake a lot of cakes. Along with that,
I decorate a lot of cakes, cupcakes, brownies,
cookies and a lot of sweet treats. So I'm decorating one of our carrot
cakes that will go in the cabinet in the morning.
So our carrot cake has a cream cheese icing on top,
so I'm just spreading that at the moment.
And then we are gonna do some garnishes with roasted nuts and pumpkin seeds.
So usually we start early mornings around 4:00 AM. We come to the kitchen,
we get all our baking done for the day. Once the baking is done,
which takes about a couple of hours,
we start decorating and finishing orders for the day.
Waking up early and managing everything within a time limit is quite a
difficult task. My favorite thing about my job is the creative
aspect of my job.
I love how I get the creative freedom to make new desserts or
customize cakes, especially birthday cakes.
I love doing custom birthday cakes. You have to be really creative when it
comes to pairing different flavors,
and you have to sort of experiment and come up with something unique that your
So I went to a pastry school, but you can choose not to go because there's so much available online nowdays
I wanted to pursue my further education in New Zealand,
and once I did that,
I sort of worked at various places as a pastry chef before I started my own
Going to pastry school definitely made me much more confident with my skills
and definitely gave me more opportunities.
My advice to anyone who wants to become a pastry chef would be you need to
practice a lot. You need to gain a lot of experience.
Learn and refine your skills to become really confident
in what you do.
There are no specific requirements to become a baker. However, a certificate in baking is useful. Examples of certificates include:
- New Zealand Certificate in Baking – Generalist (Level 4)
- New Zealand Certificate in Trade Baking – Craft (Level 4)
- New Zealand Certificate in Trade Baking – Plant (Level 4)
- Superior Patisserie Certificate (Level 4).
You can complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Trade Baking (Level 4) through Competenz.
A minimum of three years' secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include health, home economics (food and nutrition) and maths.
For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.
These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
Bakers need to be:
- careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
- practical and efficient with good organisational skills
- able to work quickly
- 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
- food-handling work
- customer service 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.
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
- NZ Baking Industry Research Trust (BIRT)
What are the chances of getting a job?
Not enough qualified bakers to fill vacancies
In 2017, baker job vacancies rose by 29%. Demand is strong for qualified or experienced bakers because:
- experienced bakers often go overseas to work
- not enough bakeries are taking on apprentices
- not enough people are completing baking training 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.
Baker appears on Immigration New Zealand's regional skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled bakers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
According to the Census, 5454 bakers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Temporary baker jobs common during peak periods
Many bakeries take on temporary assistants during peak periods such as Christmas.
Working as an assistant is a good way to get a feel for 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
- cafes and restaurants.
Many bakers are self-employed.
- Bake Info website, accessed March 2018, (www.bakeinfo.co.nz).
- Competenz website, accessed March 2018, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- Gilbert, K, president, Baking Industry Association of New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, March 2018.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Annual Percentage Change in Advertised Job Vacancies, January 2017 to January 2018 Quarters', 21 February 2018, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Theunissen, M, 'Risk of Bread Shortage as Chance of Bakers' Strike Rises', 1 February 2018, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Bakers may progress to supervisors or head bakers, or set up their own business.
With further training, bakers may become:
- bakery tutors
- food stylists
- test bakery technicians
- food technologists and laboratory technicians
- food writers
- recipe and product developers
- production managers
- specialist technical advisers
- quality assurance managers.
- Private teacher/tutor job information
- Food technologist job information
- Science technician job information
- Journalist job information
- Production manager job information
Bakers may specialise in:
- artisan breads
- factory production
- cake design and decoration
Last updated 8 September 2023