How to Become a Food and Beverage Manager: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a food and beverage manager. Research the education requirements, training, certification information and experience you will need to start a career in food and beverage management.

Should I Become a Food and Beverage Manager?

Food and beverage managers are responsible for overseeing the operational aspects of a restaurant or food service establishment. From the hiring and training of personnel to ordering supplies, food and beverage managers assume a variety of responsibilities within a fast-paced food service environment. Work hours are often long, and managers must sometimes deal with difficult employees and demanding customers. However, these workers typically work full-time schedules within a comfortable restaurant atmosphere.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No further education beyond a high school diploma is required; however, more employers require or prefer applicants who have completed postsecondary education programs
Degree Field Hospitality or food service management
Certification Voluntary certification is available for aspiring food and beverage managers
Experience 1-5 years of experience may be necessary
Key Skills Solid customer service, speaking, problem-solving, leadership, organizational and managerial skills; experience with recipe and menu database software, inventory management software, point of sale (POS) software and computerized cash register systems; may also need to use accounting software such as QuickBooks
Salary (May 2014) $23.34/hour or $48,560/year (Median salary for food service managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Step 1: Earn a Certificate or Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that while a high school diploma may be the only education necessary to begin a career as a food and beverage manager, many employers prefer to hire applicants who have pursued some type of postsecondary education program. Community and technical colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in hospitality and food service management, while bachelor's degree programs can be found at colleges and universities.

Certificate programs cover subjects such as customer service, responsible beverage service, human resource management, safety and sanitation, dining room service and hospitality law. Credits earned in some certificate programs may be applied toward degree programs. These programs typically take about a year to complete.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in hospitality and food service management are also available to aspiring food and beverage managers. The coursework teaches food and beverage managers about hiring processes, menu planning, employee training techniques, kitchen and catering event management, purchasing and inventory control, marketing activities and other related skills. Studies include both classroom coursework and hands-on laboratory work. Students in these programs may also build important business skills, such as learning about finance and accounting.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. Internships or co-operative working opportunities are available as part of many hospitality and food service management training programs. Students can take advantage of these opportunities to gain hands-on experience working alongside professionals in the field. Internship experience can also be helpful for a student seeking to develop his or her resume.

Step 2: Get Experience

Food and beverage managers generally must have 1-5 years of relevant experience in the field to acquire employment. Individuals who are interested in becoming food and beverage managers may enter the industry in a number of different positions in restaurants, kitchens or cafeterias. They may work in an entry-level position, such as line cook, server, busser, waiter or waitress. Working in these positions helps potential food and beverage managers gain insight into the field and confidence working in a restaurant or kitchen environment. Some restaurant chains may promote ambitious and experienced employees to management positions. These chains may also offer extensive training programs for new managers.

Success Tip:

  • Sharpen important customer service skills. Strong customer service skills are essential for food and beverage managers. They interact with customers often and without solid interpersonal skills and experience in this area, difficult customers may be a source of stress for food and beverage managers. Starting in the field in an entry-level job, such as server or counter attendant, should give potential food and beverage managers good exposure to customer service situations and the confidence to successfully navigate them.

Step 3: Consider Earning Certification

Though certification is not mandatory for food and beverage managers, it may be beneficial for career advancement. One such certification is the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) credential. This credential can be earned from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and requires applicants to complete coursework, pass an examination and show relevant work experience. Becoming certified may help aspiring food and beverage managers gain a competitive edge in the job market by showing dedication and knowledge.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Food service managers who wish to advance within their field may benefit from joining a professional organization, such as the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Organizations like the NRA provide continuing education and training as well as scholarships and guides on how to increase sales, manage finances and motivate staff.

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