in Food Service Management
Food service managers held about 465,000 jobs in
2000. Most managers are salaried, but about 1 in 3 was self-employed.
Most work in restaurants or for contract institutional food service
companies, while a smaller number are employed by educational institutions,
hospitals, nursing and personal care facilities, and civic, social,
and fraternal organizations. Jobs are located throughout the country,
with large cities and tourist areas providing more opportunities
for full-service dining positions.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most food service management companies and national
or regional restaurant chains recruit management trainees from 2-
and 4-year college hospitality management programs. Food service
and restaurant chains prefer to hire people with degrees in restaurant
and institutional food service management, but they often hire graduates
with degrees in other fields who have demonstrated interest and
aptitude. Some restaurant and food service manager positions, particularly
self-service and fast food, are filled by promoting experienced
food and beverage preparation and service workers. Waiters, waitresses,
chefs, and fast-food workers demonstrating potential for handling
increased responsibility sometimes advance to assistant manager
or management trainee jobs. Executive chefs need extensive experience
working as chefs, and general managers need experience as assistant
A bachelor's degree in restaurant and food service
management provides a particularly strong preparation for a career
in this occupation. A number of colleges and universities offer
4-year programs in restaurant and hotel management or institutional
food service management. For those not interested in pursuing a
4-year degree, community and junior colleges, technical institutes,
and other institutions offer programs in these fields leading to
an associate degree or other formal certification. Both 2- and 4-year
programs provide instruction in subjects such as nutrition and food
planning and preparation, as well as accounting, business law and
management, and computer science. Some programs combine classroom
and laboratory study with internships that provide on-the-job experience.
In addition, many educational institutions offer culinary programs
that provide food preparation training. This training can lead to
a career as a cook or chef and provide a foundation for advancement
to an executive chef position.
Most restaurant chains and food service management
companies have rigorous training programs for management positions.
Through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training, trainees
receive instruction and gain work experience in all aspects of the
operations of a restaurant or institutional food service facility.
Topics include food preparation, nutrition, sanitation, security,
company policies and procedures, personnel management, recordkeeping,
and preparation of reports. Training on use of the restaurant's
computer system is increasingly important as well. Usually after
6 months or a year, trainees receive their first permanent assignment
as an assistant manager.
Most employers emphasize personal qualities when
hiring managers. For example, self-discipline, initiative, and leadership
ability are essential. Managers must be able to solve problems and
concentrate on details. They need good communication skills to deal
with customers and suppliers, as well as to motivate and direct
their staff. A neat and clean appearance is a must because they
often are in close personal contact with the public. Food service
management can be demanding, so good health and stamina also are
The certified Foodservice Management Professional
(FMP) designation is a measure of professional achievement for food
service managers. Although not a requirement for employment or advancement
in the occupation, voluntary certification provides recognition
of professional competence, particularly for managers who acquired
their skills largely on the job. The Educational Foundation of the
National Restaurant Association awards the FMP designation to managers
who achieve a qualifying score on a written examination, complete
a series of courses that cover a range of food service management
topics, and meet standards of work experience in the field.
Willingness to relocate often is essential for
advancement to positions with greater responsibility. Managers typically
advance to larger establishments or regional management positions
within restaurant chains. Some eventually open their own eating
and drinking establishments. Others transfer to hotel management
positions because their restaurant management experience provides
a good background for food and beverage manager jobs in hotels and
Employment of food service managers is expected
to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through
2010. In addition to employment growth, the need to replace managers
who transfer to other occupations or stop working will create many
job openings. Applicants with a bachelor's or associate degree in
restaurant and institutional food service management should have
the best job opportunities.
Projected employment growth varies by industry.
Most new jobs will arise in eating and drinking places as the number
of establishments increases along with the population, personal
incomes, and leisure time. In addition, manager jobs will increase
in eating and drinking places as schools, hospitals, and other businesses
contract out more of their food services to institutional food service
companies within the eating and drinking industry. Food service
manager jobs still are expected to increase in many of the latter
industries, but growth will be slowed as contracting out becomes
more common. Growth in the elderly population should result in more
food service manager jobs in nursing homes and other healthcare
institutions, and in residential-care and assisted-living facilities.
Job opportunities should be better for salaried
managers than for self-employed managers. New restaurants are increasingly
affiliated with national chains rather than being independently
owned and operated. As this trend continues, fewer owners will manage
restaurants themselves, and more restaurant managers will be employed
by larger companies to run establishments.
Median annual earnings of food service managers
were $31,720 in 2000. The middle 50 percent earned between $24,500
and $41,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,200, and
the highest 10 percent earned more than $53,090. Median annual earnings
in the industries employing the largest numbers of food service
managers in 2000 are shown below.
Miscellaneous amusement and recreation services
Hotels and motels $36,460
Nursing and personal care facilities $31,400
Eating and drinking places $31,380
Elementary and secondary schools $28,310
In addition to typical benefits, most salaried
restaurant and food service managers receive free meals and the
opportunity for additional training, depending on their length of
Food service managers direct the activities of
businesses, which provide a service to customers. Other managers
and supervisors in service-oriented businesses include lodging managers,
medical and health services managers, sales worker supervisors,
financial managers, social and community service managers, and first
line supervisors/managers of food preparation and serving workers.
Sources of Additional Information
Information about a career as a food service manager,
2- and 4-year college programs in restaurant and food service management,
and certification as a Foodservice Management Professional is available
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation,
Suite 1400, 250 South Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606.
General information on hospitality careers may
be obtained from:
The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant,
and Institutional Education, 3205 Skipwith Rd., Richmond, VA 23294.
Additional information about job opportunities
in food service management may be obtained from local employers
and from local offices of the State employment service.
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