Building a Career in Hospitality and Catering

Copyright (c) 2008 Ianson Internet Marketing

If you are looking for a job in food service, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has some good news for you–the outlook for openings is generally good because many food service workers move on to better and higher paying jobs. However, if you want a good career in the field, you can stay in food service and make a decent living with some education and experience in hospitality industries to back you up.

Depending on the division of hospitality you are interested in, there are programs available at the trade school level, community college level, and university level for you. Here are a few of the jobs and programs available to you.

Food Prep Workers

Most of these jobs require little education or training, and often these employees learn on the job. Supervised by the chefs and cooks, they prepare ingredients, get equipment for line cooks and chefs, and keep work areas sanitary.

Many of these positions are in bars, fast food restaurants, and chain restaurants. The pay is generally low, but that is also true of any entry level position. Many food prep workers are still in high school and are either working for college money or preparing to go on to the food service programs in trade schools or community colleges.

Jobs for Chefs

Chefs must be able to cook well, of course, but are also responsible for some day to day kitchen management. They must be able to direct the prep workers and line cooks, and serve as head cook. In more upscale kitchens, the chef has opportunities to be promoted to sous chef, executive chef, and eventually restaurant management positions if he or she has had the proper education. Generally, a two year program at a community college is expected for chef positions.

In addition to restaurant work, jobs for chefs can include specialty grocery jobs, preparation of cookbooks, and even television appearances. Often busy families will employ a trained chef as household cook. Often they can find employment in non-feed service companies, like large corporations that have kitchens. Many have their sights set on promotions and must make sure they have additional training and education to qualify for them.

Wait Staff

One of the least favorite positions in the food service industry is the wait staff position. Waiters and waitresses (and hostesses) are often the first line of defense in the restaurant, interacting with hungry people who are of ten a little crabby. They must be cordial and friendly, and make sure the service is prompt, the food is prepared as ordered, and that the guests are happy at all stages of the experience.

However, good wait staff in restaurants, bars, and other food service positions are rewarded with high tips and management promotions. High ticket restaurant work requires extensive training for wait staff, and skilled professionals can make good pay waiting tables. Although there are no higher education requirements for wait staff, good communication skills, ability to diffuse negative situations, and snap decision making abilities are highly prized.

Catering Jobs

Catering is a different kind of food service. Wait staff make no tips and cooks do not prepare from a menu, but these are generally higher paying jobs (hourly) than regular restaurant work. Many of the cooks and chefs have had lots of experience in addition to the required education, and wait staff have been trained in high quality service.

Catering jobs are sometimes on an as-needed basis, so often a worker will be scheduled irregularly and works evenings and weekends–this is mostly when corporations have their parties, meetings, and seminars. Jobs in catering are often highly-prized, depending on the catering company. Lots of restaurants offer catering nowdays, and will offer the opportunities to the best of their workers.

Jobs in Hotels

Many of the food service jobs in hotels are similar to restaurants because they often have a restaurant on-site. However, many of these positions will involve room service, where a worker can make better money hourly and in tipping. Most cooking jobs in hotels require some college education and often the cooks and chefs serve as room service wait staff.

A wider range of work hours are sometimes required of hotel food service workers if the kitchen stays open late for room service orders. However, the kitchens themselves are often larger and better equipped than the standard restaurant kitchen. The food service in a hotel will generally match the hotel quality, so it’s easy to judge where one should apply when seeking food industry jobs in hotels.

Management positions in the hotel kitchen often requires a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, but the pay is higher, status and respect higher, and the choices of positions more flexible.

Specialization in Jobs for Chefs and Cooks

Chefs and cooks may find that their expertise falls into a category, such as pastries or presentation. These chefs will need creativity, a little extra coursework, and on-the-job training to find positions in their specialty fields. However, they will be rewarded with higher pay and status.

Chefs and cooks may also want to share their expertise with others, and many will go back to the community colleges to teach. These positions are highly-coveted among retired chefs and competition is often stiff.

One of the more unique positions for chefs is kitchen engineer. These workers attend specialized training at the university level and apply their creativity, mathematical abilities, and extensive knowledge of kitchen operations to lay out these areas and equipment in an efficient manner. Some kitchen engineers work with architects, industrial engineers, etc.

The Future for Food Service

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2006 there were 3.1 jobs in food service, and jobs are expected to increase by eleven percent. Because of the flexibility in jobs in hotels, bars, restaurants, and catering, they are ideal for both the traditional worker and the student, and offer plenty of room for advancement for all.

Louise G

Post Author: mark

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