Bakers and professional students learned a variety of ways to improve their skills through the Retail Bakers of America’s Certification program for bakers and cake decorators during a Sept. 26 educational session.

Jory Downer, CMB, and RBA Certification Chairperson, shared guidelines for bakers to become a Certified Master Baker, among other distinctions, through the RBA’s certification process.

The RBA recommends participants conduct multiple practice sessions, know what products will be included in the exam, know the test requirements, and reach out to certified professionals for guidance.

Another speaker at the workshop, Noble Masi, CMB, advised to make sure to practice with ingredients that will be part of the exam; don’t just practice with ingredients in your shop.

“The RBA Danish dough formula uses 100% butter,” he pointed out. “So don’t practice with baker’s margarine.”

There are four examinations set for next year for Certified Master Baker, Certified Decorator and Certified Baker.

Also in the works is the possibility of creating a certification process for artisan bread bakers.

Currently, an RBA certification raises professional standards and verifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities professional bakers bring to the marketplace. Certification also increases job opportunities and income for certified bakers and decorators.

RBA certification greatly benefits four types of retail bakers:

Students graduating from a baking or culinary programs, but have limited work experience;

Bakery staff with little or no technical training, but much on-the-job training;

Bakery staff specializing in decorating or bread baking; and

Retail bakers with four or more years of experience.

RBA provides professionals of the retail baking industry the opportunity to earn several certifications.

A Certified Baker prepares and produces baked goods while assisting with general commercial bakery operations. He/she has considerable responsibility and autonomy and participates in a broad range of both complex and routine work activities, including supervision of other staff and allocation of resources. He/she must demonstrate a basic knowledge of bakery sanitation, management, retail sales/merchandising and staff training.

A Certified Decorator designates a decorator who prepares and finishes sweet baked goods for a commercial bakery. Duties include preparing icings, decorating a variety of cakes using various techniques, seasonal displays and specialty designs, and working with customers. He/she demonstrates a basic knowledge about sanitation.

A Certified Master Baker works in a broad range of complex, technical or professional work activities, performed in a wide variety of contexts with a substantial degree of personal responsibility and autonomy. Responsibility for the work of others and allocation of resources is present. He/she must have the technical and administrative skills necessary to operate and manage the production area of a full-line independent or in-store commercial bakery. He/she must produce high quality bakery foods, and demonstrate a basic knowledge about the principles of sanitation, management, retail sales/merchandising and training.