Food Service Director Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements to become a food service director. Get the facts about training requirements, job duties, and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Restaurant & Catering Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Food Service Director?

A food service director, also known as a food service manager, is in charge of the operations of dining establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias. They oversee all operations, including both food preparation and business issues. Specifically, they are responsible for hiring and supervising staff, budgeting and financial allocation, sanitation procedure implementation and client service. At larger establishments, they may work as part of a leadership team, alongside chefs and assistant managers, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a food service director.

Degree Required High school diploma, post-secondary training preferred
Education Field of Study Restaurant and hospitality management, food service management
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Communication, problem solving, customer service, leadership
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (for all food service managers)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $53,640 (for all food service managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Types Programs for Food Service Directors are Available?

Traditionally, food service directors have trained as cooks or servers and accumulated work experience in the industry before advancing to positions of authority. However, many food service operations now prefer for you to have earned a 2-year associate's degree or 4-year bachelor's degree in food service management.

Programs are often a mix of culinary arts and management training. They aim to show you how to allocate and deploy human and material resources in a food service operation, impart basic knowledge of food preparation techniques and function effectively as the leader of a team. Courses vary widely from program to program but possible topics include food safety, event management, quantity production, food culture diversity and beverage management. Some programs provide opportunities to intern at a restaurant or other food serving establishment.

Where Could I Work?

Full service and fast food restaurants, hotels and resorts, school systems, supermarket chains, hospitals, nursing homes and caterers are among the business entities that need food service directors. Jobs are located throughout the U.S., although cities and resorts support more full service operations. Figures for the number of directors were not available, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports approximately 201,370 food service managers were employed as of 2015. Employment in this category was projected to grow 5% from 2014-2024.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

In general, you will be responsible for day to day operations and administration of the business. You will devise budgets, maintain financial records for accounting and auditing purposes, hire staff, order supplies and monitor kitchen practices, food quality and sanitation. You will also adjust menus based on customer preferences, test new items and keep abreast of laws and trends in your industry.

Some duties will be more specific to the type of food service operation you lead. As head of a school district, for example, your menu planning will need to comply with USDA regulations on nutrition and meal patterns, or include provisions for special needs students. At a restaurant or buffet service you will need to interact directly with the public and sometimes address customer complaints.

What Could I Earn?

January 2017 figures from PayScale.com showed the median salary of food service directors rising with years of experience. Those with less than a year on the job earned a median of $42,062, while those with 20 or more years earned a median of $56,051.

While salaries for directors aren't separated out by the BLS, it does show a mean salary for food service managers as $53,640 in May of 2015. You can expect to make more in a travel-related company, since the BLS reports a mean salary of $62,570 for food service managers in that industry.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than working as a food service director, where your job would be more focused on business and customer service, you could consider pursuing a career as a chef. In this job, you would get to be a leader in the kitchen, but you would also be more directly involved in food preparation and presentation, and you would be responsible for developing the menu and testing new recipes. Alternatively, you could get a management job outside the food industry, such as a lodging manager. These professionals oversee the operations of hospitality establishments like hotels and motels. To work as either a chef or a lodging manager, you need at least a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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