Food Service Management Careers

If you are looking for reliable consumer service jobs, one of the best career paths is in food services.

Food service managers are responsible for keeping a restaurant or other food establishment running. The food industry is an excellent choice for employees because it is an industry that is constantly growing. No matter what state you live in, the food industry is relevant.

New restaurants are constantly opening up or franchise restaurants are expanding. According to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food management jobs are expected to increase by almost 10 percent over the next 10 years. For a restaurant to succeed, it needs a strong manager at the helm.

The number of available jobs largely depends on where you look for work. Smaller towns do not have as many restaurant opportunities, but if you live near a larger town or city there is no shortage of job opportunities. The necessary requirements to get a food service manager job largely depend on where you are applying. More information about starting a career as a food service manager is provided below.

Job Responsibilities

Food service managers have demanding jobs. Food service managers are essentially responsible for whether a restaurant runs successfully. A good food service manager must be able to multitask and focus on different areas in a restaurant. Many food service managers have busy schedules, often working on weekends, evenings and holidays.

Managers not only create their own schedule, but the schedules for all the other employees in the restaurant. They are the ones responsible for hiring and training additional employees. If any issues arise with existing employees, the manager must decide what to do to solve the issue, which includes firing employees.

Another important role for a manager is overseeing the kitchen. Managers do not necessarily need to know how to cook, although culinary knowledge is helpful. What managers must focus on is whether the kitchen and wait staff are following necessarily health and safety procedures. If the restaurant is ever found in violation of a health or safety code, the manager is the one who takes responsibility.

In addition to taking care of employees, food service managers interact with customers. How much the manager interacts with customers changes depending on the restaurant.

With a larger restaurant, it is more common for the staff to handle customer interactions, but the manager may make an appearance for important guests. During busy moments, managers often step in to help with smaller tasks, like cleaning off tables or bringing customers their bill.

Food service managers are responsible for buying food and other equipment for the restaurant. If something breaks down, the manager must replace the item, or call in a technician to repair it. Most food service managers work alongside the head chef when ordering food. The head chef gives the manager a better idea about what supplies are needed, which keeps the manager from over or under ordering certain ingredients.

Finally, the food service manager is responsible for keeping business records. This includes keeping track of monthly profits as well as how much is spent on ingredients and other restaurant supplies. You must report any licensing fees. Normally, a manager is aided by an accountant when calculating difficult financial expenses, such as paying taxes.

Work Environment

It is not uncommon for food service managers to work more than 40 hours each week, especially at a new restaurant. Some managers are able to mitigate these hours by hiring an assistant manager to share the workload, but most of the work falls on the food service manager.

While most food service managers work in a restaurant, others are employed in food production factories or cafeterias. College campuses often employ multiple managers depending on the size of the campus. If an employee is unavailable and nobody can be reached, the food service manager is typically called in to cover the shift.

A 2016 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed there were nearly 310,000 food service managers working in the United States. Of that group, 34 percent worked independently and ran their own businesses. 47 percent worked in a restaurant, while the rest were employed in miscellaneous food industries.

Most of the work takes place directly in the restaurant. In larger locations, managers often have their own office. This gives them a private and hopefully quiet place to focus on the budget and food expenses. Managers typically spend the day directly interacting with restaurant staff to make sure everything is running correctly on the floor. A good manager must be prepared to spend long hours working with staff members.

Requirements and Qualifications

The requirements to work as a food service manager largely depend on the restaurant or food establishment. At minimum, applicants must have a high school diploma. Most restaurant owners want applicants who have managerial experience. Having culinary experience is not technically required, but it is helpful. Typically, managers have experience working in the food service industry either as a server or chef.

If you are applying for a job at a high-end restaurant, you most likely need a two or four-year degree to be considered for the job, along with at least several years of previous restaurant experience. Most universities and community colleges provide managerial and culinary classes.

If you know you want to be a manager, it is more important to focus on the business side of your degree than the culinary side. Understanding the kitchen Is certainly helpful, but it is more important for you to know how to advertise the restaurant and manage payroll. Other important skills include:

  • Leadership.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Organization.

Before applying for a job, consider getting certification through the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC) program. Go through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation for additional certification.

Pay Rate

According to 2017 data, the average pay rate for food service managers was around $52,000 annually. Your salary largely depends on where you are working and your previous experience. Working at a high-class restaurant results in a larger salary, with some managers earning as much as $90,000 annually.