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How to Prepare for a Career in Catering

Have you considered a career in catering?  To become a caterer and succeed in your career there are several important things to keep in mind.  Here are five important tips for getting and succeeding in a job in catering. 

High school students interested in a catering career can prepare with courses like: pyschology, English, home economics, business mathematics, accounting, and even elective courses in food preparation.  Gaining employment within a private catering business, hotel, or restaurant allows students to gain hands on experience and may increase future acceptance into a future training program.

A six to twelve month certificate program offered by culinary, trade, vocational, or online schools allows students to participate in courses like: introduction to professional cooking, introductory baking, basic sanitation and food safety, basic nutrition, business planning in food service, and wines and spirits.  A student may then advance to licensing exams, entry level catering jobs, or associates degree programs.

Associates degree programs with courses like: introduction to professional cooking, introductory baking, basic sanitation and food safety, basic nutrition, business planning in food service, cooking in quantity, pastry arts, food purchasing, menu design, hospitality supervision, sales and marketing, and wines and spirits.  A clinical experience or internship allows students to advance to licensing exams, jobs as a caterer, or advanced degrees.   A bachelor degree within a culinary arts program allows students to learn specialized skills with courses like: accounting, business administration, kitchen operations, marketing, nutrition, pastry art, menu planning, gourmet cooking, baking techniques, special diet food preparation, sanitation, food planning and preparation, catering operations, event planning, hospitality service, professional bartending, inventory and budgeting, cost control methods, personal management, business law and management, and computer software/programs.  Graduates then advance to internship and licensing exams or work as catering managers or advance to higher degrees.

Licensing is usually voluntary for caterers and the catering industry closely regulated by a state's board of health.  Servsafe Sanitation, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the International Catering Association provide individuals opportunities to expand skills and gain clients.  Many licensing organizations offer seminars and exams designed to expand food safety skills, maintain customer relations, increase profitability, and improve writing and presentation skills. 

A masters in a catering related discipline like business management, restaurant management, or hospitality management allows students to participate in course like: business communication, economics, food and beverage cost control, front office operations, hospitality facilities design, housekeeping management, purchasing and inventory control, real estate finance and investments, resort development, retail and consumer behavior,and sanitation and safety.  Masters students must write a thesis statement and complete internships to advance to upper level employment within a hotel, restaurant, or private business.  Doctoral degree students take courses in: critical thinking, principles of research, organizational behavior, research methods, marketing and managing customer relations, ethical leadership, business law, risk management, communication, and marketing.  Doctoral students write a publishable dissertation and may gain employment as expert managers or professors. 

References:  How to Become a Caterer

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