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Careers in Food Service Management

Careers in Food Service Management

In a tough economy, jobs can be lost when consumers put off buying houses, cars, appliances or clothes, but everyone has to eat. And at a time of belt-tightening, schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, sports arenas and commercial businesses increasingly contract out their cafeterias, dining rooms and concession stands, making careers in food service management hotter than an industrial oven. 

Jobs for food service managers can run the gamut, from technical experts in fields such as engineering, diet/nutrition, communications, technology and plant operations to skilled artisans like executive chefs.

“An excellent example of a typical management position is a general manager,” says Arie Ball, Sodexo vice president of sourcing and talent acquisition. “Oftentimes, this is our main face to both the client and the customers, making it one of the company’s most valuable positions.”

Food Service’s Future

Looking ahead, Ball sees a growing demand for sustainability within the hospitality industry. As green lifestyles become more important, and demand increases for locally grown products, vegan products and fully biodegradable paper and utensils, opportunities will expand for experts in supply management.

In addition, Ball notes, concern for wellness will create additional opportunities for dietitians and food scientists who can address such issues as childhood obesity and promote healthful eating habits.

Geographically some of the highest growth areas for jobs in the hospitality field include the Western states of Nevada, Utah and Colorado, and the Southeastern states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky, according to Ball.

A Wide Range of Duties

According to the US Bureau of Statistics (BLS), food service managers’ duties include being responsible for daily operations, coordinating activities among departments, overseeing inventory, ordering food, equipment and supplies, arranging for routine maintenance and upkeep of equipment and facilities, maintaining work records, preparing payrolls, ensuring compliance with licensing laws, recruiting new employees, monitoring employee performance and training, scheduling work hours and even working in the kitchen when needed.

The BLS says that many food service management companies recruit from college hospitality-management programs. While more than 40 percent of managers have a high school diploma or less, post-secondary education is preferred for many managerial roles. And for jobs at corporate firms and high-end restaurants, a post-secondary degree is preferred.

Cornell University, Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America all have well-known hospitality programs. These institutions are also good sources to help you identify which niche of this industry to pursue,

The Right Food Service Job for You

Job seekers can identify the right opportunities in food service management by researching positions of interest. These industry organizations can also be helpful for gathering information, as well as networking:

“It is important to know the culture to ensure a right fit,” says Ball. “For example, if you want to work for a company with a social commitment, look on the Web site to see how the company gives back to the community. Company blogs can help provide that feel for a particular culture. You can review company awards, and explore [its] commitment to growth and development by seeing if it offers things like tuition reimbursement or professional memberships.”

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