How Can I Become a Home Caterer?

Home caterers provide food and services for events. Learn more about the training and education requirements, certification and other skills needed to enter this profession. Schools offering Hotel & Restaurant Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Home Caterer?

A home caterer is the manager of catering company that offers services for special events at people's homes, such as parties and weddings. These professionals oversee all company operations in order to make sure that events run smoothly. Prior to an event, they contact the client to discuss the menu. At the event itself, they set up catering equipment, oversee staff, monitor food preparation and make sure that all of the client's guests are happy with the service. In addition to event planning and execution, they also keep track of the company's overall inventory and budget.

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

Education Required Certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs available
Education Field of Study Culinary arts, hospitality management, business management
Key Responsibilities Food preparation, designing menus, managing beverages
Certification Optional through the National Association of Catering Executives
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* (food service managers)
Median Salary (2017) $33,766** (all caterers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Education Can Prepare Me for a Career as a Home Caterer?

An established educational program for becoming a home caterer doesn't exist; in fact, you can pursue different pathways to enter this profession. A common way is to earn a bachelor's degree in food service management. Such programs will allow your culinary skills to grow while your business acumen increases. Many food service management programs feature a split curriculum, in which the first two years cover the culinary arts while the second two years feature business instruction.

Culinary courses can teach you about basic food preparation and menu development, as well as beverage management and nutrition. The business component of the program could feature courses in finance, accounting and marketing. You might also learn how to design a business plan and manage employees.

You may be able to choose a concentration that will enable you to further focus your degree on home catering. One example would be a private management services concentration. Your specific educational needs will vary, depending on if you want to run your own catering business or simply work for one.

Do I Need Anything in Addition to My Degree?

While not necessary, you could consider pursuing professional catering certification. The National Association of Catering Executives (NACE), for instance, administers the Certified Professional Catering Executive designation (www.nace.net). This trade organization also offers a range of programs and courses, covering everything from the latest in tabletop design to getting the most out of networking opportunities. The International Caterers Association (www.internationalcaterers.org) can additionally give you educational and networking opportunities through membership.

Will I Need Other Skills?

To succeed as a home caterer, you'll need to be an excellent communicator with a flair for perfection. Catering an event at someone's home means the spotlight will be on everything you do. Therefore, working under pressure should be enjoyable for you. Before becoming a home caterer, you can develop the necessary skills by working in culinary environments. Many bachelor's degree programs incorporate internships or externships to give you hands-on experience in restaurant settings.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as the manager of a catering company, you could get a job as a food services manager in a different setting, such as a restaurant or café. You could also consider a managerial job outside the food industry. For instance, as a lodging manger, you would oversee the operations of a hotel or motel. Alternatively, if you're passionate about food preparation, you might want to get a job as a chef or head cook. In addition to performing supervisory duties in the kitchen, chefs test new recipes and figure out how best to present food on the plate. Even though a high school diploma is the only educational requirement for a chef job, it is necessary to have a significant amount of industry experience, and a postsecondary culinary arts training program can help prepare you for the job.

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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