Food Critic: Job Description & Salary

Food critics get paid to eat. Their job is to help their audience decide which restaurants to spend money in by providing information about and assessments of dining establishments. Learn more about this career, including its education requirements, salary, and job outlook.

Career Definition of a Food Critic

Food critics can have a significant impact on the success of a restaurant. Their job is to evaluate the food served. They consider a number of variables, such as how it's presented and how it tastes. They also provide their perspective on the service they receive in the restaurant, the restaurant's atmosphere and other factors that may influence a person's choice of a restaurant, such as cost. Some food critics try to maintain anonymity so that they have an unfiltered dining experience. They also avoid openings and special events where they would be likely to meet chefs or others they may be critiquing in their reviews.

Food critics order from the menu and collect information that is relevant to their review during their entire dining experience. They eat the food served and they also pay for their meal. Food critics may return to a restaurant several times to ensure they have enough data to provide a fair and balanced review. While it's common for food critics to write about their dining experiences and grade the restaurant based on those experiences, some food critics may present their reviews verbally on television. Their objective is to provide their audience with enough information to determine whether or not they want to visit an establishment.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree recommended
Job Skills Writing skills, analytical skills, attention to detail, impartiality, communication skills, knowledge of different types of cuisine, familiarity with food preparation and presentation standards, ethical standards, discretion
Median Salary (2016)* $61,240 (all writers and authors) $37,820 (all reporters and correspondents)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% (all writers and authors) -10% (all reporters and correspondents)

Required Education

While it is possible to pursue a career as a food critic without postsecondary training, many food critics have a bachelor's degree. Common fields of study include journalism and communications because these disciplines prepare graduates to provide professionally written reviews and other types of content. Students will also learn about the ethics related to work so that they are prepared to conduct themselves professionally. In some cases, food critics study particular types of cuisine. They may also benefit from training in culinary arts. Some critics don't have formal academic training, but they have experience working in the restaurant industry.

Required Skills

Food critics benefit from strong communication skills because they need to order food and engage with restaurant staff during their dining experience. They also need strong written communication skills to present their assessments to their audience. Impartiality is a strong asset because food critics should base their reviews on their dining experience instead of subjective variables, such as disliking the style of a server's hair. Attention to detail is an asset so that they take note of all factors that should be considered when making their evaluations. Knowledge of how food is prepared in various cuisines is also important in order to provide an educated review and offer context to the audience.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes occupational data in its listings for writers, authors, reporters and correspondents. While writers and authors were reported to enjoy annual median salaries of $61,240 in 2016, reporters and correspondents took home a median of $37,820 in the same year. Over a ten-year period starting in 2016, the BLS expects writers and authors to see an 8% rate of job growth while reporters and correspondents will see job declines of 10% during the same period.

Related Careers

Those considering a career as a food critic may also be interested in other roles that involve reviewing products, such as music or movie critics. Another career option may be to become a head chef, since the head chef ensures that the food prepared meets quality expectations. Learn more about what these professionals do through these links.

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