Informal training programs in food service management generally take place on the job in paid, supervised work experiences. Formal degree programs are offered both on college campuses and through distance learning courses. An increasing number of establishments, especially institutional cafeterias, prefer managers who have 2-year or 4-year degrees in food service management or hospitality and restaurant management.
Certificate and degree programs can take between one to four years to complete. Prerequisites for any undergraduate food management training programs include a high school diploma or equivalent.
Certificate Programs in Food Management
Certificate programs for food service managers provide foundational knowledge to individuals who may already work in the industry. Coursework includes hospitality principles, safety and sanitation, human resource management, facilities management and food storage, handling and purchasing procedures, menu planning, and food preparation. Students may also learn about integrated computer applications, front office procedures, and financial management strategies. Certificate programs are typically offered by community colleges and take about one year to complete.
Associate's Degree Programs in Food Management
Most 2-year associate's degree programs provide management, hospitality, and culinary training. Coursework includes English, public speaking, food and beverage management, hospitality advertising and merchandising, facilities management, and business law. Additional courses in safety and sanitation, human resource management, and nutrition may also be required. Food management associate's degree programs may be offered at culinary schools, community colleges, and vocational schools.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Food Management
Bachelor's degree programs in food management train students for management-level positions in the food service and hospitality industries. Many 4-year degree programs blend liberal arts courses with specialized food management classes. Coursework includes English, communications, marketing, human health and nutrition, safety and sanitation standards, and institutional menu development. Financial management, cost control strategies, facilities design, and facilities management may also be covered.
Practical, hands-on experience plays a significant role in obtaining food management positions. Many establishments offer paid, on-the-job technical and culinary training programs for entry-level employees. It's common for these employees to advance into supervisory positions upon completion of training. Individuals with formal degrees in food management often work part-time or intern in the industry to gain similar practical experience.
Licenses, Certifications and Continuing Education Information
Food service managers are not required by law to be certified or licensed. However, professional associations, such as the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) offer voluntary certifications for food service managers. The NRAEF's official designation, Foodservice Management Professional (FMP), demonstrates professional competence. Candidates are certified upon successful passage of a written examination, completion of a series of food service management courses, and documentation of required work experience.
Food service managers may take advantage of professional seminars and workshops offered by the National Restaurant Association or the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals. These organizations offer national conferences, workshops, webinars, and supplemental training programs aimed at food service managers. Common programs focus on food safety and sanitation, restaurant marketing, and contemporary menu development.
In order to secure corporate or academic food service management positions, interested individuals may need additional professional development and education. Master's degree programs in hospitality management, culinary arts, or hotel and restaurant management provide food service managers with comprehensive graduate training. Coursework includes food safety, human resource management, communication, advanced marketing, menu development, food preparation, and purchasing. Candidates may also study nutrition, business law, and institutional food service operations.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for food service managers is expected to reach 5% in the decade between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage for a restaurant manager is $48,690, as reported in May 2015.
Restaurant managers are typically trained through in-house employer programs, certificate and undergraduate degree programs in food service management. These programs may cover topics like food safety, finances, and even basic culinary techniques. Voluntary certification is available, and master's programs are an option for students who hold a bachelor's degree.