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Become a Catering Sales Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a catering sales manager. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career as a catering sales manager. View article »

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  • 0:01 Catering Sales Manager…
  • 1:03 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:16 Gain Industry Experience
  • 3:30 Attain a Management Position
  • 3:54 Seek Professional…

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Video Transcript

Catering Sales Manager Overview

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Business, finance, marketing, or a related field
Certification Optional certification provided by the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE)
Key Skills Verbal and written communication, persuasion, coordination, critical thinking, judgment, decision-making, and personnel skills; social perceptiveness, service orientation, and customer relationship management; knowledge of calendar and scheduling, database, and spreadsheet software
Salary $53,640 (2015 average for all food service managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association for Catering and Events, O*NET OnLine

Catering sales managers combine their talents in business with knowledge of the food and beverage industry to build clientele and oversee catered events. The job comes with a great deal of responsibility, which can sometimes be demanding. These workers may need to travel frequently to complete sales. Catering sales managers must often work long hours which may include weekends and evenings.

Catering sales managers need strong verbal and written communication, critical thinking, persuasion, and decision making skills, along with social perceptiveness, service orientation, and good judgment. They also must be skilled in personnel and customer relationship management and have knowledge of calendar, scheduling, database, and spreadsheet software. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food service managers (including catering sales managers) made a mean annual salary of $53,640 as of May 2015.

Let's look at the career road map to become a catering sales manager:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While not all catering sales manager positions require a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer candidates who have attained some postsecondary education. Some employers desire candidates with a combination of education and hospitality experience, while others are more concerned with finding experienced sales people. One degree program that combines coursework in both sales and the food industry is hospitality management. An aspiring catering sales manager who enters this field of study will take courses in accounting, finance and marketing with special emphasis on how these functions are carried out in the hospitality industry.

Most employers in this field require up to three years of experience in either sales or catering, and some require both. An internship working in event planning could help an aspiring catering sales manager develop the experience needed to find employment after college. Such internship programs may be organized by a university as part of a degree program. Alternatively, it's sometimes possible to find internships working directly for businesses in the hospitality industry. Internships sometimes have the potential to lead to permanent employment.

Step 2: Gain Industry Experience

A position as a catering sales manager requires knowledge and expertise in both sales and in planning and implementing special programs in a hotel, restaurant, convention center, or other venue for hospitality events

A new college graduate may prepare for a career as a catering sales manager by working as a caterer's assistant, a management trainee, or in some other entry-level capacity in either a sales or hospitality environment. Entry-level jobs might expand a person's knowledge of event planning and reinforce organizational and communication skills. These initial jobs might also help prospective catering sales managers become more comfortable with cold calling and appointment setting.

Entry-level workers may find it beneficial to join a trade organization and network with other professionals they meet at functions. For example, membership in the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) offers access to webinars, workshops, annual conventions, electronic journals, and other sources of information for those seeking to improve their knowledge about the catering industry.

Step 3: Attain a Management Position

Once an individual has acquired enough sales, management, and catering experience, he or she may be prepared for a position as a catering sales manager. Typical duties may include soliciting, organizing, and booking catering events; establishing working relationships with prospective clients; and delivering catering orders.

Step 4: Seek Professional Certification

NACE offers the voluntary Certified Professional Catering Executive designation. To be eligible for this certification, NACE members must pass an examination that measures their knowledge in eight core competencies. Such certification might be regarded as an indication of expertise and competency in the catering industry. The 5-year credential is renewable after submitting a recertification application and other supporting documentation.


In summary, catering sales managers might need a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related field. They also need experience in sales, management, and catering.

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