Become a Hotel Catering Director: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a hotel catering director. Learn about the job description, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in hotel catering.

Should I Become a Hotel Catering Director?

Hotel catering directors oversee and manage catered events in hotel and resort settings. They work closely with clients and other staff members to cover all aspects of event planning and make sure events go smoothly and according to plan. Hotel catering directors handle employee selection, management and training, maintain supplies, plan menus and presentation and maintain safe and clean working environments. The career involves working well with both employees and customers and requires strong management skills.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required, but associate or bachelor's degree typically preferred by employers
Degree Field Hospitality management, food service management
Certification Voluntary certification available
Experience Two years of experience in the field
Key Skills Leadership and management abilities, excellent customer service and communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, multi-tasking ability; inventory management, point of sale, analytical, database and accounting software
Salary (2015) $57,739 per year (Median salary for directors of catering)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Employer job postings (October 2012), (2015)

Step 1: Earn a Degree in Hospitality Management

The BLS reports that over 1,000 schools with bachelor's programs in hospitality or food service management are available across the nation. Some larger or well-known employers may require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees, while others may accept candidates who have earned associate degrees. A student can also consider a shorter-term certificate program, if the degree is not necessary or desired.

Degree programs include a combination of general education courses with hospitality management core courses and can take 2-4 years to complete. Certificate programs do not include general education courses. Many programs include hands-on training and field learning experiences that take place through internships or practicum courses.

Hospitality management programs typically include a strong business component, with topics of study in accounting, marketing, management and human resources. Core hospitality management courses deal with subjects such as industry law, food production, facilities management and information technology in hospitality.

Success Tips:

  • Develop strong customer-service and communication skills. Hotel catering directors need to be comfortable speaking with many different kinds of people and bringing resolution to difficult situations including disputes and conflicts that may arise with clients or other staff. An aspiring hotel catering director might take elective courses geared to improve these skills, such as public speaking, professional writing or customer service.
  • Become familiar with commonly used computer software systems. Computer and technology usage is becoming more important to prospective employers. A student may use time spent in school to become familiar with commonly used programs for improved job prospects. Most employers desire managers with up-to-date computer skills.

Step 2: Get Two Years of Work Experience

Most hotel catering management positions require a potential candidate to have some experience for consideration. After earning a degree, an aspiring catering director can go on to get at least two years of relevant work experience in hotel event planning and management, catering sales or a similar field.

An aspiring catering director should look for a position with managerial duties, since having supervisory experience is generally desirable to potential employers. Finally, work experience is also a requirement for individuals considering professional certification.

Step 3: Consider Earning Professional Certification

An aspiring hotel catering director can consider earning voluntary certification through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, which offers the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) credential. Earning this credential displays an individual's level of expertise and dedication and can set him or her apart from other candidates in the job market. To qualify, an individual needs to meet training and experiential requirements and successfully pass the certification exam.

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