What Is a Catering Assistant?

Find out what it takes to become a catering assistant. Learn about education options and certification, job growth and potential wages 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 Does a Catering Assistant Do?

A catering assistant serves food and beverages at special events hosted by catering companies, such as weddings, parties and banquets. They may set up buffets, circulate trays of appetizers and refill guests' drinks; their main goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Additionally, prior to an event, they may assist the catering manager with the planning of the event and with basic business operations so that they can gain experience for a higher-level job in the future.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of this field.

Degree Required Formal education not required
Training Required Short on-the-job training
Key Responsibilities Banquet set up, food preparation, food and beverage service, occasional marketing and sales; excellent customer service is important
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% for all food servers, nonrestaurant*
Annual Median Wage (2015) $20,420 for all food servers, nonrestaurant*

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

Catering Assistant Defined

Caterers provide food and beverage services during events such as weddings, business meetings, parties or conventions. A catering assistant helps with event set-up tasks and serves food and beverages; most catering assistants work on a part-time basis. Catering assistants may occasionally help with marketing and sales tasks.

What Skills Do I Need?

In general, food and beverage servers have very few educational requirements. It is important to have a good attitude and excellent customer service skills. This field attracts a large number of younger workers; in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that a much larger proportion of servers were between 16 and 19 years of age. Those who perform bartending services must be at least 21 years old.

What Are My Career Prospects?

According to the BLS, a 13% percent increase in non-restaurant food server positions was expected during the 2014-2024 decade. This rate of growth is considered faster than average when compared to other occupations. In 2015, nonrestaurant food servers earned a median annual salary of $20,420, as noted by the BLS.

How Do I Advance My Career?

Catering assistants can build upon professional experience and pursue educational opportunities in order to further their careers in the catering business. Catering certificate and degree programs in the culinary arts are available. In these programs, students explore catering techniques, event planning, food theory, food preparation, sanitation and safety fundamentals.

The National Association of Catering Executives sponsors a professional certification process leading to the Certified Professional Catering Executive credential. Applicants must take an exam covering concepts of accounting, beverage management, event management, sales and marketing, contracts and agreements, food production and catering services.

As a caterer, you might own and operate your own business. Other opportunities for career advancement may include work in hospitality management or catering sales.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a server for a catering company, you could get a job in a different food service environment. For instance, you could get a job as a counter attendant at a coffee shop or cafe. In this job, you would take customer orders, prepare their drinks and wrap up carryout food orders. Alternatively, if you would rather be more heavily involved in food preparation itself, you could consider getting a job as a cook. Although cooks need no formal training, you can improve your skills and boost your job prospects by completing a certificate program in culinary arts.

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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