Catering Manager: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a catering manager. Learn about job duties, qualifications, certification and earnings potential to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Hotel & Restaurant Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Catering Manager?

A catering manager is a food service manager who works for a catering company or an establishment that offers catering services, such as a restaurant, hotel or resort. As a catering manager, you would supervise and direct a team that plans, creates and delivers catering events. This would involve managing the budget, ordering the necessary food ingredients and equipment, and checking if safety protocols are followed. On the day of the event, you would oversee food preparation and address any customer concerns.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Job experience or bachelor's degree
Training Required For degree program, internship may be necessary
Education Field of Study Hospitality management, business administration or similar field
Key Responsibilities Client contact; event organization; procuring supplies; serving area set-up
Certification Optional FMP credential through the National Restaurant Association
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% for all food service managers*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $48,690 for all food service managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What are the Job Duties of a Catering Manager?

As a catering manager, you might be responsible for meeting with clients, organizing catering events, supervising employees, ordering supplies, setting up serving areas and complying with any food service regulations. Additional duties could include hiring and training staff, managing costs, cleaning up after events and developing menus.

What Requirements Do I Need To Meet?

According to February 2017 job ads from CareerBuilder.com, employers may look for catering managers who have 3-5 years of experience in hospitality or food service; with some employers expecting at least three years of prior experience in the hospitality/restaurant industry, specifically in catering and sales management. A valid driver's license could be required as well. Employers may look for certain characteristics in a potential catering manager, like time management, knowledge of computers, demonstrated leadership ability and strong interpersonal communication skills.

Employers may expect prospective catering managers to hold a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or culinary arts. In a hospitality management bachelor's program, you might take courses like restaurant marketing, budgeting, ethics of leadership and legal aspects of the restaurant industry.

Culinary arts bachelor's programs often include courses directly related to cooking, like French cuisine, soups and sauces, food production, baking techniques and kitchen sanitation. You may need to complete an internship in a professional kitchen before receiving your degree.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food service managers earned a median annual salary of $48,690 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The top ten percent of food service managers earned an annual wage of $83,010 or more during the same period; the lowest ten percent of managers earned $28,780 or less annually.

In some cases, you might increase your earning potential by obtaining a Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) credential offered by the National Restaurant Association (www.restaurant.org). To earn this certification, you'll need at least three years of experience as a restaurant supervisor and current certification as a Food Protection Manager through ServSafe. You'll receive the FMP credential after completing a multiple-choice exam.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking for a supervisory position in a restaurant or other food establishment, you could also consider becoming a chef. Like catering managers, these professionals are responsible for staff oversight and operations management, but they also get to play a more significant role in food preparation itself, as well as menu development. Therefore, even though only a high school diploma is required, it can help to have completed a postsecondary culinary arts program. Outside of the food industry, you could consider becoming a lodging manager, where you would oversee operations in hotel, motel or another hospitality establishment. These professionals don't need a college degree, but having completed a postsecondary program can boost job prospects.

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