Food Service Management Careers

One popular career in the consumer services industry is that of restaurant and food service manager. These managers are in charge of the day-to-day operations of a restaurant or establishment that provides food and beverages.

From 2016 to 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of restaurant and food service managers will experience a 9 percent increase, which is above the national average for all occupations.

The expected job growth is reflective of the population, and income increase throughout the country and is expected to result in higher demand for food establishments. This career path is ideal for individuals who have limited education and experience in the food service industry. Learn more about the growing industry in the sections provided below.

Job Responsibilities

Food service managers oversee the overall operations of an entire restaurant or food establishment and will typically work evenings, weekends and holidays. They are responsible for the hiring, training and firing of employees, along with ensuring that their staff follows health and food safety procedures. They create the weekly schedule for their staff, as well as manage their payroll.

Food service managers may assist in serving customers, taking payments or cleaning tables during busy moments. Their job description includes the ordering and inspection of supplies such, as food, beverages and other resources. Food service managers are also responsible for planning food preparation, establishing portion sizes and ensuring the overall presentation of their food meets the necessary standards.

Along with these responsibilities, restaurant managers review any complaints from customers regarding the establishment’s service or food quality. They also oversee the cleaning and maintenance of equipment in the restaurant to ensure that the establishments meets health and sanitary requirements.

This can include trash removal, sanitation and pest control. Food service managers are also responsible for reviewing and completing important paperwork related to licensing, taxes and wages. They oversee the accuracy of business records by ensuring that the cash and transaction slips are secure and correct. Table service restaurants often have other members on their management team, such as an assistant manager, executive chef or a general manager. In these cases, a restaurant manager must collaborate with these individuals to ensure the establishment operates smoothly.

Work Environment

Typically, food service managers endure long and hectic shifts, and they may work more than 40 hours per week. Those who work for school cafeterias, food production factories and other similar food facilities typically work traditional business hours. In some instances, they will be called into work at the last minute because of shortage of staff or some other reason.

As of 2016, there were 308,700 food service managers employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment reports. Of those food service managers, 34 percent were self-employed and owned their own business, while 47 percent worked at a restaurant or another establishment.

More often than not, kitchens will be crowded, with employees and other managers entering and exiting frequently. Along with being high traffic areas, kitchens are filled with dangerous equipment, such as sharp knives and hot ovens. Due to this, food service managers will be at a higher risk of enduring injuries and illness compared to the national average. Frequent injuries include slips, burns and cuts. Team members, including management, must wear nonslip shoes throughout their shift to prevent and reduce these risks.

The industries with the highest levels of employment are the following:

  • Restaurants and other eating establishments – 149,770
  • Special food services – 11,960
  • Traveler accommodation – 8,550
  • Management of companies and enterprises – 7,550
  • Elementary and secondary schools – 4,660

Requirements and Qualifications

Usually, candidates can qualify for a position in food service management with a high school diploma and moderate experience in the food industry, as either a server, cook or counter worker. Typically, food service managers start in other industry-related jobs and gradually move their way up into the position through workplace development.

Individuals who possess additional training from a technical, community, vocational or four-year institute will be better qualified for the position, specifically at higher scale establishments. Numerous institutions offer educational and training programs for this career field. Certain culinary institutions offer programs and courses that will prepare individuals for the career and assist them in gaining the skills necessary to run their own business.

Food service managers who are employed by a fast food or chain restaurant may be required to complete courses that involve classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Subjects taught in the course include food preparation, proper sanitation, record-keeping and company policies.

Individuals can acquire the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC) through the completion of the food safety exam even though it is not required by many establishments. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation also offers a Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification for those who have management experience in the food industry and specialized training in food safety. Eligible individuals must also pass the assigned exam.

Individuals must possess the appropriate skills and qualities to excel in this position. Communication skills are of the upmost importance, since these workers will be interacting with various member of the staff and customers every shift. Keen customer service skills are also necessary, as food service managers will interact with customers on a daily basis.

Managers must maintain a friendly and attentive demeanor throughout each shift, regardless of disgruntled customers or other customer complaints. Typically, food service managers must work long and exhausting shifts, so possessing the necessary physical stamina is essential for the position.

Some other key qualities to have for the position include the following:

  • Business skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Detail orientation

Pay Rate

As of May 2017, the median annual wage for food service managers was $52,030. The bottom 10 percent received less than $29,850, while the top 10 percent earned more than $90,290. The accommodation industry was the leading industry in terms of median annual wage at $61,590. The special food services industry follows with a median annual wage of $58,900. In some instances, food service managers may oversee numerous business locations.

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