What Training Is Necessary for a Career in Catering?

A career in catering requires knowledge of how to prepare and serve large quantities of food for special events. Caterers must also know how to market and run a business. Like many food service positions, caterers can learn these skills on the job, but postsecondary training may be helpful. Read on to find out more. Schools offering Hotel & Restaurant Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Requirements of a Catering Career

A caterer provides remote foodservice for clients who are hosting events, such as conferences, weddings and banquets. Caterers meet with clients to establish menus and pricing for an event, then they are responsible for cooking and serving food at the event. To succeed in this profession, you must know how to provide food that is delicious, visually appealing and safe for customers to eat. A catering career also requires professionals to perform a variety of other tasks, including:

  • Creating menus
  • Drawing up contracts
  • Following food handling regulations
  • Marketing a catering business
  • Overseeing staff

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Pay$33,372 ($40,911 for catering managers)
Job Outlook5% growth in employment for chefs and head cooks (slower than average)
TrainingGood amount of experience needed to start a catering business
Similar OccupationsChefs, Bakers, Cooks, Food Service Managers, Food and Beverage Servers

Sources: PayScale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degrees and Certificates

Though degrees or certificates aren't required for a career in catering, some professionals find these programs beneficial. Some schools offer certificates, diplomas or associate's degrees in catering that teach students how to prepare food and manage a business. Programs in culinary arts are similar and may prove beneficial as well. Students who enroll in training programs in this field typically develop skills in the following areas:

  • Catering principles
  • Culinary arts
  • Basic food preparation
  • Safety and sanitation
  • Pastry and baking arts
  • Classical and international cuisine
  • Business management and entrepreneurship
  • Nutrition
  • Cost control
  • Customer service

Licensing

If you're planning to start your own catering company, you may need to obtain a license before opening the business. To ensure that food distributed or sold to the public is safe, many states require caterers to hold a food safety license. Caterers typically must apply for licenses from a state's Health Department or similar regulatory agency. These departments usually inspect catering businesses before issuing a license, so many training programs in catering emphasize safety and sanitation regulations.

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