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Catering Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree preferred
Average Salary: $24,280 – $55,586 per year
Job Outlook: Good

Catering managers organize the day-to-day food and beverage services that are provided in businesses, institutions, and organizations across the nation. In their work, catering managers must communicate with clients and suppliers, plan menus alone or in tandem with the head chef, estimate what supplies are needed, order supplies, oversee deliveries, regularly evaluate food quality, make certain that hygiene and operational safety practices meet certain standards, direct customer service efforts, manage and motivate as well as hire and fire staff, prepare payroll, keep records, and ensure financial goals are met.

Catering managers work in hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, catering companies, schools, hospitals and other types of businesses and institutions.

Education and Training Requirements

Employers prefer that catering managers have a bachelor’s degree, or even an associate’s degree in a relevant field, such as hospitality management, restaurant management, or culinary science, which prepares them for the intensive planning and managing of the job by focusing on topics like cost control and hygiene regulations. A Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management is a four year program, while an associate’s degree requires only two years of study. An internship working in a restaurant, hotel, or other establishment is often a required component of these programs.

At the same time, a number of catering managers do work their way up through the ranks and different food service positions without specific education or training outside of on the job training. That being said, candidates with a bachelor’s degree have the best chance of landing catering management jobs with great conditions.

Getting the Job

Employers looking to hire catering managers require either a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management or a related field as well as an internship or some previous food experience, or considerable experience in food service positions and previous supervisory experience.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for catering managers is good. While the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a small decline in the number of hospitality establishments over the period from 2008 to 2018, they anticipate high turnover among catering managers who leave the industry for other careers, leading to some regular opportunities for new catering managers to break into the field. Catering managers looking to advance should consider buying and operating their own restaurant or hotel.

Working Conditions and Environment

Catering managers typically work long hours to accommodate different dining schedules. More than 50 hours a week, often on weekends and evenings, is not uncommon.

Catering managers must try to placate unhappy customers, who may be unpleasant, and mediate any disputes that may arise within the establishment. In addition, catering managers are responsible for the safety of customers and staff, and so must be vigilant to both practices and changing conditions. Like others who work in restaurants or other hospitality settings, they do run the risk of minor injury.

Salary and Benefits

Catering managers typically earn between $24,280 and $55,586 per year. Medical and dental benefits are included. Annual vacation time ranges from one week for catering managers with little experience to a little more than two weeks for catering managers with twenty years of experience.

Where to Go for More Information

American Culinary Federation
180 Center Place Way
St. Augustine, FL 32095
(904) 824-4468

American Hotel and Lodging Association
1201 New York Ave. NW, Ste. 600
Washington, DC 20005-3931
(202) 289-3100

National Restaurant Association
1200 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900

The American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF)
26384 Carmel Rancho Lane, Ste. 200E
Carmel, CA 93923
(800) 274-2493

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHospitality and Recreation