How to Become a Food Service Manager


Food Service Manager Career Path Guide

Like many careers, there are many different paths for becoming a food service manager. This filed is open to pretty much anyone with practical experience and/or relevant education, a sense of responsibility, strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of business. 


This work would involve overseeing staff, adhering to a budget, dealing with customers, monitoring and ordering inventory, working non-traditional hours, and offers plenty of room for advancement and opportunities for ownership. 


If this sounds like a promising career field, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on the details, such as how you can get into food service management, how much you could earn, and of course, what you’d be doing once you get there.



Education Needed to Become a Food Service Manager

You typically don’t require any formal post-secondary education to become a food service manager; working your way up is often enough to get you into a management position in this field.


However, some employers will prefer to hire, or will only hire candidates that have a diploma, certificate or degree in a relevant field, such as restaurant or hospitality management, or general business administration/management.


Success Tip: Whether or not it’s required to start your career, having related post-secondary education can usually help you advance more quickly in your career, and may qualify you for advancement to district manager and top executive positions in large organizations. 





Experience You Might Need

If you don’t have a post-secondary education in a related field, not to worry. You can always work your way into the job by starting as host/hostess, bartender, server, kitchen or other food preparation or service staff. From their, you can move into a supervisor role, and eventually into a management role. 


You can also move into a food service manager job from an outside position (typically in some kind of service management capacity), provided some of the skills and competencies transfer well. A great example of this is retail management.



Career Advancement Possibilities 

If you display competence and dedication in your work, career advancement opportunities will open themselves up to you. Examples of career opportunities for food service managers include (but aren’t limited to):


• An increase in wage or salary

• Partnership in the ownership of the food service establishment

• Moving to a bigger, busier or more profitable location

• Moving into a district manager role

• Moving into corporate-level executive management positions with a large organization

• Moving into a specialized area of the food service industry, such as marketing, human resources, or sales

• Opening your own restaurant or other type of establishment 


Success Tip: Having an education related to food service, restaurant or hospitality management can usually help you advance more quickly, especially in corporate-level positions.





Is This Career Right for You?

You should have the following attributes you wish to become a food service manager:


• The ability to remain clam in stressful situations 

• You enjoy leading and motivating others

• You’re willing to encourage, support and discipline staff

• You enjoy making decisions as part of your job

• You are willing to be acceptable and responsible for the performance of the business

• You’re well organized and can manage a budget

• You have strong commitment to customer service

• You’re willing to be on call and work long and irregular hours if necessary

• You’re willing to learn all aspects of the restaurant business, including customer service, marketing, relevant legislation, staff and budget management, and other aspects



What Kind of Companies Employs Food Service Managers?

Food service managers are typically employed by the following types of organizations:


• Chain restaurants

• Independent restaurants 

• Food trucks

• School, corporate, hospital and other cafeterias

• Catering companies

• Sports facility and hotel restaurants and concession areas

• Any other establishment that prepares and serves food





Details of the Career: General Job Description

As a food service manager, you would be responsible for the daily operation of a restaurant, or another establishment that prepares and serves food and beverages. The main aspects of your job would be to direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and ensuring that the business is profitable by properly managing the use of resources.



Typical Job Duties

Although your specific job duties would vary, you could expect to be responsible for the following as a food service manager:


• Ordering and purchasing inventory, equipment and supplies

• Recording and analyzing sales figures in order to determine which menu items may be less popular or less profitable

• Coordinating assignments of food preparation staff in order to ensure efficient use of time and resources

• Monitoring compliance with health, fire and safety regulations relating to food preparation and service

• Reviewing work procedures in order to determine ways to improve service, performance, and safety

• Establishing and maintaining customer service standards

• Scheduling and receiving food and beverage deliveries, checking delivery contents in order to verify product quality and quantity

• May be involved in tasks such as food preparation, clearing tables and customer service



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a food service manager can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (levels of education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and responsibilities

• Whether you are a salaried employee or paid by the hour

• The type of compensation and benefits package you are offered (such as if you get tips and bonuses, or partial ownership)


Food Service Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Food Service Managers occupational group is $48,690 per year, with  the highest 10% earning more than $83,000 per year.


Salary - Canada (Alberta & B.C.): According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of Food Service Supervisors occupational group earn an average of $14.71 to $18.41 per hour, while those in the Restaurant Managers group earn an average of between $18.79 and $24.76 per hour. According to the Province of British Columbia, those working in the Restaurant & Food Service Managers occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $44,990.



Food Service Manager Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "food service manager" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Work Environment 

Working Hours: Your working hours could vary quite widely from one job to the next, but would closely reflect the operating hours of the establishment. Some duties might also be performed when the business is closed, such as inventory management and coming up with marketing ideas. You might also be called in to work on short notice including evenings, weekends, and holidays.


Working Conditions: Your jobs would be quite hectic at time, such as during lunch and dinner rushes. You would likely spend a good deal of time on your feet, and some of your time in a hot, noisy kitchen. Your job would also probably require some lifting, crouching and other light physical work. Dealing with dissatisfied customers rogue staff can be quite stressful, whereas dealing with satisfied customers and well-performing staff can be quite fulfilling. 



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as "food service manager":


• Bar Manager

• Food Safety Auditor

Hotel Manager

• Public Health Nutritionist

• Restaurant Manager

• Restaurateur

• Retail Manager




The following resources were utilized in the preparation of this career guide:


Occupations in Alberta:Food Service Supervisor.” (March 28, 2017). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Occupations in Alberta:Restaurant Manager.” (March 28, 2017). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Management:Food Service Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

Explore Careers:Restaurant and food service managers.” (n.d.) WorkBC website. Retrieved November 26, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Food Service Manager

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a food service manager. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:


Any Field of Study Scholarships

Management Scholarships

Nutrition Scholarships 


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a food service manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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