Be a Food Service Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 09, 2020

In this lesson, you'll learn how to become a food service technician. You'll get information about the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career in food service.

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Food Service Technicians

Food service technicians work for restaurants, hotels, or institutions like hospitals and schools, completing a variety of duties including food preparation, cleaning and/or sanitizing food service equipment and work areas, menu planning, serving, and cashiering.

Due to the varied hours of many restaurants and fast food establishments, food service technicians often have flexibility with their schedules. However, many positions are only part-time. There is also risk of injury in this field, since food service workers often must carry heavy trays and risk burns and cuts in the kitchen.

A degree isn't required to work as a food service technician, though culinary education can aid in career advancement and general food service know-how. The level of required experience varies, with at least a year or so working in a food service facility being beneficial. Some of the key skills needed include good communication skills, the able to understand and perform basic math problems, basic knowledge and concept of food preparation, and the capability of using various pieces of kitchen equipment and food-preparation utensils. The national average salary for food service workers according to is about $22,136 per year as of February 2020.

Degree Level No degree required
Experience Varies; a year or less working in a food service facility
Key Skills Good communication skills; able to understand and perform basic math problems; basic knowledge and concept of food preparation, capable of using various pieces of kitchen equipment and food-preparation utensils
Salary (2020) $22,136 yearly (national average for food service workers)


Learn About the Career

Before embarking on a career in food service, it may be beneficial for candidates to better understand what the job entails. The duties of food service technicians can vary with experience. Workers may begin with dishwashing, setting tables or line cooking, then progress to baking, frying or meat cutting. Food service technicians must follow sanitary guidelines when working with foods and food service equipment, or cleaning and maintaining food service and dining areas. They ensure that customers receive quality service and that the food served to them is nutritious, safe, and sanitary. They also seek ways to continually improve food and service quality.

Consider Completing College Coursework

While the minimum education level requirement for food service technicians is usually a high school diploma or the equivalent, completing some college-level coursework may be helpful to gaining employment with certain employers.

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer food service programs for those who would like formal job preparation. These programs typically result in a technical diploma or certificate. Students typically apply what they learn through lectures and demonstrations in a work setting. Food service courses may include safety and sanitation, food theory, food production, nutrition, menu planning, catering, and food preparation.

Get Experience in Food Service

Since many food service technician positions require candidates to possess previous work experience, individuals may attempt to secure an entry-level job as soon as they feel they're ready. Entry-level jobs in food service will help prospective food service technicians gain knowledge that will allow them to hone the necessary skills of the profession.

Candidates should be knowledgeable in proper cleaning methods as well as basic food preparation and storage techniques. They should be comfortable following recipes and using food service equipment. Since technicians may also have cashiering duties, they should have basic arithmetic and cash register operating skills.

Obtain a Food Service Technician Position

Once individuals have gained the proper amount of experience in entry-level food service settings, they may choose to obtain actual food service technician positions. These positions are common in hospitals, correctional facilities, schools, and hotels.

Look for Opportunities to Advance

Food service technicians with significant experience may move into supervisory or management positions. As a food service technician's responsibilities grow, he or she may perform nutritional analysis, manage inventory, or train new employees. Some workers may be asked to plan budgets, perform work area and equipment inspections, modify menus, resolve customer complaints and supervise other staff members.

To become a food service technician, prospective workers should learn about the job, earn some basic food service knowledge, gain some basic experience in the field, look for a title position, and work on advancing their career into more managerial-based roles in the food service industry.

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