How to Become a Food Service Manager
Some food service managers start working in industry-related jobs, such as cooks.
Food service managers typically need a high school diploma and several years of experience in the food service industry working as a cook, waiter or waitress, or supervisor of food preparation and serving workers. Some receive additional training at a community college, technical or vocational school, culinary school, or 4-year college.
Food service managers typically need a high school diploma, but education requirements for individual positions may vary from no formal educational credential to a college degree.
Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have postsecondary education, especially for jobs at upscale restaurants and hotels. Some food service companies, hotels, and restaurant chains recruit management trainees from college hospitality or food service management programs. These programs may require the participants to work in internships and to have food-industry–related experiences in order to graduate.
Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hospitality management or institutional food service management, both of which may be part of a personal and culinary services program. Another field of degree that may be helpful for managers is business. In addition, numerous community colleges, technical institutes, and other institutions offer associate’s degree programs. Some culinary schools offer programs in restaurant management with courses designed for those who want to start and run their own restaurant.
Most programs provide instruction in nutrition, sanitation, and food preparation, as well as courses in accounting, business law, and management. Some programs combine classroom and practical study with internships.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Most food service managers start working in related jobs, such as cooks, waiters and waitresses, or supervisors of food preparation and serving workers. They often spend years working in the food service industry, gaining experience and learning the necessary skills before they are promoted to manager positions.
Food service managers typically receive on-the-job training of at least 1 month. Topics covered during this training may include food preparation, sanitation, security, company policies, personnel management, and recordkeeping.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states and localities require that food service managers have food safety certification. For more information, contact your state or local health department.
Although certification is not always required, managers may obtain the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC) by passing a food safety exam. The American National Standards Institute accredits institutions that offer the FPMC.
Business skills. Food service managers must understand all aspects of the restaurant business, including how to budget for supplies, comply with regulations, and manage workers.
Communication skills. Food service managers must give clear orders to staff and be able to convey information effectively to employees and customers.
Customer-service skills. Food service managers must be courteous and attentive when dealing with patrons.
Leadership skills. Managers must establish good relationships with staff to maintain a productive work environment.
Organizational skills. Managers have many different responsibilities, including scheduling and overseeing staff, budgeting, and maintaining financial records. The larger the establishment, the more complex their job is.
Physical stamina. Managers often work long shifts and sometimes spend entire evenings actively helping to serve customers.
Problem-solving skills. Managers need to be able to resolve personnel issues and customer-related problems.