Food Service Jobs

The food services industry offers a chance to work in many different settings, such as restaurants, bars, hospitals, catering businesses and more. The food service industry has contributed greatly to the expansion of the services sector around the world; the list of food service careers you could pursue is quite extensive.

In general, people in this profession should be able to fulfill customer needs while keeping costs low. You will work with a large mix of people and personality types, whether you are dealing with your colleagues or members of the public you serve.

Food Service Managers
Food service managers oversee the day-to-day operations of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food to customers. The size of the establishment often dictates a manager’s duties. Responsibilities include coordinating efforts between departments such as the kitchen and dining room to ensure that customers enjoy their experience. Managers also see that correct inventory and supplies are ordered and that the restaurant receives required maintenance.

Good food service managers are skilled at working with people, and handling a variety of personalities on the staff. They should be able to strive to please an unhappy customer or soothe “the temperamental head chef who just watched 120 Baked Alaskas melt,” as the Hcareers website noted. They must be knowledgeable about their industry and particular establishment, and be able to hire, train and fire employees, if necessary.

Often, food services managers do not have a bachelor’s degree but it is becoming increasingly common (and even preferred) for them to have a degree or at least some postsecondary training. As of May, 2008, salaried food service managers earned an average $46,320. Incomes ranged between $36,670 and $59,580 a year.

Hosts and Servers
Hosts and servers (waiters and waitresses) are responsible for seeing guests to their tables, serving customers, operating the cash register and cleaning up tables when customers are finished dining. They should be able to provide fast service, deliver meals, handle other issues efficiently and see that the customers have an experience befitting the atmosphere of the restaurant. In places where liquor or tobacco is offered, they will likely have to check identification to ensure customers are of a legal age to purchase such products.

People skills are vital in these occupations. “Here, you ARE the face and personality of the restaurant,” Hcareers noted. “As an experienced waiter, you take on that responsibility and YOU make the difference between a great meal and a dining nightmare that others will hear about.”

Catering careers offer a unique opportunity to work with food, make business decisions and help customers. Caterers can be found in places such as five-star motels, military camps and even corporate settings. Job titles include catering sales manager, marketing manager, chef and catering coordinator. Work schedules are varied and shifts can last between 10 and 12 hours every day of the week.

As with other hospitality careers and occupations within food services, people skills are also essential. You could work with everything from small parties to large events involving thousands of people. You will have to be able to cope with pressure and maintain high standards of cleanliness and safety.

To work in this field, you will require a mix of technical and interpersonal skills. A one- or two-year certification from a culinary school or a college degree related to managerial or catering fields is often necessary.

Earnings and Advancement
Earnings in the food services industry are frequently low because many dining establishments are small. To advance your career and increase your earning potential, it may be necessary to seek employment in larger establishments where there are more promotion possibilities and where you can work your way to higher paying positions. Large restaurant chains, for instance, frequently invite talented employees with demonstrated skills to participate in management training programs.

The Future
Employment growth in the food services industry varies by occupation. For example, the popularity of take-out food is increasing and putting a damper on the need for food servers. However, people often change jobs quickly within this industry, making job prospects for the right individual very good.

Last Updated: 05/23/2014


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