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How to Become a Food Service Supply Distributor

Learn how to become a food service supply distributor in this video. Discover the career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in food service supply distribution. View article »

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  • 0:00 Food Service Supply…
  • 0:50 Earn an Undergraduate Degree
  • 1:57 Find an Entry-Level Position
  • 2:26 Get Professionally Certified

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Video Transcript

Food Service Supply Distributors

Food service supply distributors coordinate and oversee the warehouse activities necessary for the appropriate receiving, storing, and shipping of relevant materials. This is deadline-oriented work governed by federal regulations as well as company policies.

Food service supply distributors learn on-the-job, though employers require applicants to have a college degree. Food service industry experience and knowledge helps distributors advance more quickly, and professional certification also provides an advantage.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Supply chain management, distribution management
Experience 1-7 years of experience
Certification Voluntary
Key Skills Speaking skills, negotiation skills, customer service skills, managerial skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills; knowledge of inventory management software, project management software, analytical software, and Microsoft Office Suite
Salary (January 2016) $64,376 (Median annual salary for all distribution managers)

Sources: Online job postings (February 2013), O*Net OnLine, PayScale.com.

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Those interested in becoming food service supply distributors should consider an associate's or bachelor's degree in supply chain management or distribution management. Supply chain and distribution management students learn the ins and outs of moving products, information, and services between companies. Students take distribution courses in logistics, management strategies and theories, inventory management and economics, as well as in the latest supply management technologies.

Most degree programs provide the opportunity to gain professional experience through an internship with a food or product distribution firm partnered with the university. During this time, students begin to obtain the necessary experience and hands-on familiarity with distribution business models that some employers prefer or require.

Some colleges offer organizations or clubs related to the food service supply industry. These clubs offer networking opportunities with other students and food service companies, as well as skills in areas like leadership, interviewing, and resume writing.

Find an Entry-Level Position

Additional work experience is crucial to career advancement for food distribution professionals. This means selling and distributing products to restaurants or grocery stores, or finding a marketing position to develop and improve organizational and marketing strategy skills. Some possible job titles include food service sales representative, marketing associate, food service director, supply chain manager, distribution manager, or warehouse manager.

Get Professionally Certified

Although not required, some employers prefer applicants with voluntary professional certification. This helps display specific competencies to potential employers. Successful candidates are approved by the National Restaurant Association once an examination is passed and the certification is earned. Other related organizations include the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and the Institute for Supply Management.

In order to become a successful food service supply distributor, prospective distributors should earn an appropriate undergraduate degree, obtain an entry-level position in the food service industry, and work toward being professionally certified.

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