How to become a chocolate maker: Max's story

Meet Max. He's 25 and from Sheffield. Find out about his job as a chocolate maker. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"I started making chocolate as a hobby and one thing led to another – it kind of just snowballed."

How would you describe your job?

We’re one of a handful of bean to bar chocolate makers in the UK. That means we actually import cocoa beans and go through a series of complex steps that result in a finished bar of chocolate.

What are your day-to-day tasks?

My tasks are split between the chocolate making process, running a café and managing my team, which involves a lot of problem-solving skills.

The making of chocolate is a nine-step process with the tasks normally spread out across the week. It involves collecting and sorting the beans, roasting and grinding down the nibs, and finally making the chocolate.

After three days we have smooth glossy chocolate that we pour into blocks. We then mature it and leave it for at least three weeks to let the flavours develop.

What skills do you use?

There is a lot of problem solving and there are a lot of manual tasks – it’s a craft!

I need organisational skills to make sure everything is done on time, as well as good teamwork and communication.

Time management is important because, with each step in the process, the taste of the chocolate will change depending on how long it is roasted for.

What was your educational career path?

From school I did Food Tech, then moved on to catering college getting a BTEC in Catering, Hospitality and Event Management.

Then I went straight to university and studied Event Management. When I graduated, I got a job in Sales and Marketing for two years before starting my own business.

Top tips

  • If running your own business is something you want to do, know that it is possible. It can be very challenging, you just have to keep everything moving and roll with it

  • Being a chocolate maker is more of a passion than a job – you don’t have to have qualifications for it. If you’re very passionate about something and you have a vision for it, you’ve got to start making steps towards that pathway.

What to expect if you want to own your own business

Working for yourself looks different for each person and each business, but in general it means you:

  • run your own business and are responsible for its success
  • can decide how, when and where you do your work
  • charge an agreed, fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit
  • can hire people at your own expense to help you or to do the work for you.

The salary and working hours when you own a business can vary enormously but what's most important is you work hard and love what you do.

You can be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You can work for your employer during the day, for example, and run your own business in the evenings and at weekends. It’s important to contact HMRC for advice if you’re not sure if you’re self-employed.

You can get help with setting up or developing your business, through the government’s business support services, for example, for advice about tax or how to find funding to start your business.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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