Students who begin at the associate degree level in food and beverage management may learn about food service operations and hospitality at the introductory level. In addition to nutrition and cooking classes, students could participate in internships that promote hands-on skills development.
While enrolled in bachelor's degree programs, students might learn about culinary arts and various wines. Programs sometimes feature co-op experiences as well as opportunities to study overseas.
Relevant master's degree programs may prepare students to take on managerial roles. Students may also choose areas of concentration such as marketing, operations or finance.
Prerequisites may include minimum GPA requirements, experience working in the food industry, and master's degree applicants must have an undergraduate degree in a related field. Online degrees and certificates are available in food and beverage management.
Associate's Degree in Food and Beverage Management
Several schools offer associate degree programs in hospitality administration, tourism services or restaurant management that provide training in food and beverage operations. Many schools offer transferable credit to 4-year bachelor's degree programs.
Associate degree programs focus primarily on either culinary arts or kitchen management, though all provide instruction in food service operations, purchasing and sanitary practices. Some examples of course topics include:
- Accounting and finance
- Safety and sanitation
- Cooking and nutrition
- Kitchen and dining room management
Bachelor's Degree in Food and Beverage Management
Classroom learning prepares students for the practical experience offered through a required internship. Students may work under the supervision of skilled management professionals in hotel, restaurant, catering or other institutional settings.
A food and beverage manager position is typically considered upper management, and many employers prefer candidates with a 4-year degree in hospitality management, culinary arts or a related field. Common preparatory courses include:
- Menu planning
- Culinary theory
- Introduction to wines
- Hospitality and business law
- Food pairing and wine tasting
- Human resource management
Master's Degree in Food and Beverage Management
Master's degree programs do exist in food and beverage management; however, hospitality management programs are more common. A master's degree program usually takes 1-2 years to complete. Many schools include an internship opportunity within a master's program.
Master's programs focus on industry experience and help students build professional and academic relationships within a chosen field of study. These industry connections provide networking opportunities for successful postgraduate employment. Master's-level courses cover advanced topics in finance and management techniques, business strategy and communication. Specialized course options might include:
- Restaurant establishment and expansion
- Legal regulations in the hospitality industry
- Technology usage in food and beverage management
- Environmental considerations in tourism
- Economic impacts on hospitality and tourism
- Casino management and marketing
Food and beverage managers combine innovative marketing and development ideas, creative culinary skills and management expertise in areas like customer service, organization and human resources. Graduates of an associate degree program in hospitality, restaurant or food and beverage management typically qualify for several entry-level positions in the food service industry. A few career options include:
- Front desk supervisor
- Convention center manager
- Trade show coordinator
- Catering manager
- Assistant kitchen manager
- Food and beverage purchasing clerk
Graduates of a master's degree program in hospitality management might seek upper management positions, such as food and beverage manager, in restaurants, resorts, community centers or hotels. Additionally, a master's degree might satisfy academic eligibility criteria for some teaching positions or prepare aspiring college professors for doctoral studies in the field.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of food and beverage management programs usually qualify for careers in various branches of hospitality and food services, such as restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals and catering companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated 5% growth between 2014-2024 for food service managers, which is about as fast as the average for all careers. In 2015, the BLS reported the average annual salary of food service managers at $53,640; the majority of these managers were employed in the restaurant industry.
Continuing Education Information
Students often can apply credit earned in an associate degree program toward a bachelor's degree in hospitality, tourism or food and beverage management. After completing general education courses and fundamental professional courses in the 2-year program, earning a bachelor's degree usually takes an additional two years or less.
Various professional certification options exist for graduates of associate or bachelor's degree programs. Organizations such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) offer education and credentials for service workers and management. The ACF offers 14 certification options for cooking professionals and kitchen supervisory staff. Additionally, graduates of a formal education program with some experience in the field may earn the Foodservice Management Professional designation through the NRAEF. Obtaining certification is optional, though a credential might improve employment and salary opportunities.
Students interested in management positions within the food and beverage industry can choose from degrees at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Upon graduation, students can continue their studies or earn a voluntary certification to increase their knowledge and job opportunities.