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Food Service Management Degree and Training Program Information

Certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in food service management provide the training needed to pursue a career as a catering director, restaurant manager or chef.

Essential Information

A certificate or an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Food Service Management degree program can prepare graduates for entry into the industry. Both programs are designed to introduce students to food preparation and production techniques as well as hospitality and nutrition principles. Usually, an associate's degree program also includes general education coursework. Graduates may be prepared for entry-level employment.

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) equips candidates for more advanced positions. As they prepare to manage food service personnel, enrollees may study hospitality marketing, financial accounting and legal issues as they pertain to the food service industry.

Prerequisites for food service management degrees and training includes a high school diploma or its equivalent. Online courses may be available.


Certificate in Food Service Management

Food service managers oversee daily operations of restaurants and other settings where meals are prepared and served to customers. Students can gain an overview of the food service manager's roles and responsibilities in different settings, including restaurants, hotels, convention centers and entertainment venues. Some certificate programs offer areas of emphasis, such as hospitality. Program lengths vary; however, most require about 35 hours of coursework and may require field experience. Courses towards chef certification may be available.

The program consists of classes that examine the planning, production and serving of food and beverages to customers and clients. Students also learn about hospitality in the food service business. Possible subjects covered in the curriculum include:

  • Food sanitation and safety
  • Restaurant business applications and principles
  • Hospitality introduction
  • Human resources management
  • Cost control and purchasing

Associate's Degree in Food Service Management

An associate's degree program in food service management introduces the fundamental concepts of the preparation and service of food and beverages to customers. Such programs generally place focus on estimating food needs, planning menus, purchasing of supplies and allocating resources. Students learn to work as a team in the fast-paced industry of restaurants.

Classes provide an overview of the industry and delve into current trends in food establishment management, food preparation theories and techniques, nutrition and customer/client relations. An internship experience in a restaurant or other establishment where food and beverages are served is generally required to satisfy the curriculum. Course topics may include:

  • Food preparation principles
  • Accounting principles
  • Quantity food production
  • Catering and event management
  • Nutrition and healthy cuisine

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Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management

Bachelor's degree candidates explore all aspects of food service management and related industries as they develop advanced skills in areas including operations, distribution and strategic planning. These programs often include a greater focus in business studies, and some may be offered as food service management concentrations within broader business bachelor's degree programs.

This baccalaureate program consists of classes that examine food service operations by leveraging management and accounting principles, in-kitchen instruction of food preparation and practices in managing staff. Hands-on experience may be required to complete the degree program. Possible subjects covered in the curriculum include:

  • Hospitality marketing
  • Legal issues in food service management
  • Financial accounting in hospitality
  • Food service operations
  • Beverage management

Popular Career Options

Certificate holders are generally eligible to seek entry-level management positions in the food service industry. Previous experience in the food-service industry may qualify them for more advanced positions. Potential job titles include:

  • Food service manager
  • Assistant manager
  • Executive chef

Graduates may seek advanced and senior-level positions in food service management. They could work in settings such as restaurants, hotels and casinos, resorts and health care facilities. Some career options include:

  • Restaurant manager
  • Catering director
  • Food and beverage director

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment for food service managers is forecasted to grow by 5% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Candidates with a college degree in food service management or a related field may have better odds at securing a job. According to the BLS, food service managers earned an average annual salary of $53,640 in May 2015.

Certification Information

Offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification is awarded after applicants pass an exam testing knowledge of food service practices and skills (www.restaurant.org). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as human resources, marketing and cost management. Certification of food service managers is not mandatory; however, those holding FMP certification may be able to attain senior- or director-level positions in various food and beverage service settings.

Food service management training is available at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels and usually includes chances to gain practical experience. Additional voluntary certifications in food service management are also available following graduation to increase career advancement opportunities.


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