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Food Critic: Requirements, Training & Education

A career as a food critic may be a good choice for individuals who want to translate their love of food and writing into a profession. Read on to discover the key job responsibilities and job outlook for food critics.

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Career Definition of Food Critic

Food critics specialize in visiting food establishments and rating their dining experience, including the food, atmosphere, and service. They can work for a variety of organizations, including newspapers, food websites, or magazines. Food critics often work varied schedules with evening and weekend hours.

Specific job responsibilities for food critics can vary depending on the type of organization. General job duties can include establishing contacts within the restaurant industry, creating and maintaining a social media presence through Twitter or Facebook, and assisting with creating a list of top dining establishments. Food critics may assist digital marketing personnel with creating online versions of their reviews. They may also represent their publication at local community events, such as wine or food festivals.

Food critics could be responsible for adhering to a monthly dining budget, while others pay out of pocket and are reimbursed by their publication. They may oversee contract restaurant reviewers if needed and may be responsible for writing a best restaurants story at the end of each year. These writers also collaborate with photography staff to schedule photo shoots or get appropriate art for stories.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's Degree
Job Skills Excellent communication skills, strong attention to detail, and effective organizational abilities
Median Salary (2016)* $61,240 (writers & authors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% (writers & authors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Individuals may need to have a bachelor's degree to work as a food critic. English and journalism programs can help prospective critics develop their writing abilities. Some individuals in the field begin their careers in the restaurant business or as journalists before transitioning to food critics. Interested individuals can join a professional organization like the Association of Food Journalists. The organization promotes responsible food writing in various mediums.

Required Skills

Excellent communication skills are one of the most essential assets for a food critic, as their job centers around interaction with restaurant staff, including hostesses, waiters, and managers. They may face restaurant owners or managers who are dissatisfied with their reviews. Food critics must be able to craft compelling, comprehensive reviews of restaurants for their readers. They need excellent writing skills to convey the finer points of cuisine, such as texture, temperature, and taste.

Food critics should have strong attention to detail to ensure they remember all aspects of their dining experience and accurately report on them later. They should also have strong organizational abilities in order to effectively manage their schedules and deadlines. Social media skills may be required to promote and market publication materials on digital platforms.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect information specific to food critics; however, they project 8% job growth for writers and authors during 2016-2026, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The BLS reported a 2016 median annual salary of $61,240 for writers and authors.

Related Careers

Individuals considering a career as a food critic might also be interested in one of the related careers profiled below. They offer candidates the opportunity to utilize their skills in other culinary or writing positions.

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