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Education Needed to Own a Fast Food Restaurant

Fast food restaurant owners typically don't require formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and paths to ownership to see if this is the right career for you.

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The education level needed to own a fast food restaurant varies greatly. An aspiring fast food restaurant owner could be a manager who wants to work their way up, or a business person with knowledge of management or investing, or business administration.

Essential Information

There are several paths that can lead to fast food restaurant ownership, including starting at a managerial position within a restaurant or buying a new location or franchise. Owners differ from managers in that they may not have a hands-on role in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Education requirements can vary; however, a bachelor's degree in one of several applicable fields, such as business or food service, can provide training necessary for owning and operating a restaurant.

Required Education None required; degrees in hospitality and business are available
Other Requirements Available capital to open or purchase a restaurant
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (for food service managers)*
Median Salary (2016) $60,297 (for restaurant owners/operators)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Education Requirements for Owning a Fast Food Restaurant

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) educational backgrounds of restaurant owners vary significantly, which includes little to no postsecondary training beyond high school . Prospect owners can learn how to own a restaurant exclusively by working at one and becoming familiar with its operations or, in the case of franchises, taking corporate-sponsored management courses. These professionals may also need enough financial assets to purchase a restaurant or franchise location, the prices of which vary based on current owners and corporate policies.

The BLS suggests that 2- and 4-year degrees from hospitality and business related areas are becoming increasingly popular for this profession and many fast food chains' websites list ideal qualifications and useful education information for restaurant owners to pursue. Fast food franchises typically provide corporate ownership training.

Hospitality Management

Hospitality management programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management, focus on the principles behind creating a compelling, friendly environment for customers in the food and travel industry. Students take classes in areas like marketing, accounting and sanitation as they relate to hotels and restaurants. Through this they can develop the necessary skills for managing a business that attracts customers.

Food Service Management

Food service management programs also offer hospitality management courses; however, the curriculum primarily focuses on the restaurant business. Course topics include nutrition, inventory purchasing and employee supervision. These programs, including the Bachelor of Applied Science in Food Service Management or Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management, may also facilitate internships, which allow students to experience restaurant management firsthand.

Business Management

Many fast food restaurant chains require prospective franchise owners to have an entrepreneurial spirit as well as previous business management experience. Prospective franchisers may prepare themselves by taking college courses in business management through programs such as the Associate of Applied Science in Business Management, Bachelor of Science in Small Business Management or Bachelor of Business Administration. This is a more general management-focused curriculum that teaches subjects like human resources, public relations and business law. Business management graduates have the tools to oversee many types of businesses, as well as prepare for professional certification or advanced education.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

A 5% increase in job prospects for food service managers was estimated from 2014-2024 based on BLS information. According to PayScale.com, owners and operators of restaurants as of 2016 earned a median salary of $60,297.

While there is no hard and fast rule about the education required to own a fast food restaurant, some chains may require a bachelor's or associate's degree in a related field, such as hospitality, business management, or business administration. Studying these topics may be helpful for a fast food restaurant owner, who does not necessarily manage daily operations but the business as a whole.

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