How to Become a Food Service Manager

Food service is an essential part to our constantly growing economy as millions of people eat at public food establishments on a daily basis. Food service managers are trained professionals who are responsible for the daily functions of a variety of food service establishments.

What does a food service manager do?

Food service managers are responsible for the effective operation of a variety of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages to the public. They coordinate activities in many different departments and make sure customers are satisfied with their service. They supervise the inventory and ordering of food, supplies, and equipment and ensure the establishment is up to cleaning, maintenance, and operating standards. They also interview, hire, train, monitor and fire employees, as well as create schedules for work shifts. Some food service mangers assist with cooking, clearing tables, and other tasks when needed. Food service managers also perform administrative tasks such as sales records, payroll, and required paperwork.

What kind of training does a food service manager need?

Food service managers usually need at least a high school diploma, but many employers prefer applicants with post-secondary education and related work experience. Many food service managers start their career as waiters, cooks, and other related workers. Many food service managers complete associate or bachelor degrees in food service management, hospitality management, or other related fields. They often complete courses in food planning and preparation, nutrition, sanitation, and management. Some programs require a combination of classroom instruction and internships. Most restaurants and food service companies provide rigorous on the job training for new food service managers.

What are the prospects for a career as a food service manager?

Employment of food service managers is projected to grow more slowly than average for all professions, increasing 5% from 2006 to 2016 (1). A growing population and the increased demand for more food and beverage establishments will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for food service managers with advanced education and extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace food service managers that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do food service managers make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of food service managers earn annual salaries between $48,991 and $74,395. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $86,753 (2).

A career as a food service manager is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in food service and managing others. Food service managers must have strong leadership qualities, detail orientation, and good problem solving skills. Self-confidence, motivation, and ability to gain the respect of others are desirable characteristics. Food service managers must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they frequently interact with a variety of employees, customers, and suppliers.