Catering managers make culinary dreams come true at events large and small. People employed as catering managers are called upon daily to perform a delicate balancing act, maintaining attention on the food, the service and the budget. While specific requirements will vary depending upon the company or organization, generally, you can enter this field with only a high school diploma and relevant experience. The median salary was $48,130 in 2010, according to BLS figures. Catering managers must work relatively hard for their money; they oversee and monitor an array of tasks, people and price tags.
The primary responsibility of a catering manager is managing the staff. This will often mean both hiring and firing. Additionally, catering managers commonly set the work schedules for employees and ensure that they have enough workers on hand to meet customer needs, but not so many that they are paying staff that is left idle. Depending upon the organization, a catering manager may also have handle staff development and training. They issue and follow up on reprimands to staff who aren’t functioning as they should.
Long, Odd Hours
Catering management isn’t your typical nine-to-fiver. Because catering managers often have to work when events are taking place -- during the evening or on the weekends -- they are frequently called upon to work outside the regular 40 hour work week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that individuals in this field often work 12 to 15 hours a day and commonly clock 50 or more hours per week.
To be profitable, a catering company or food service provider must effectively budget, setting prices just right and sourcing food to get the best quality with the lowest price. Catering managers are often the ones who do this calculating. They monitor food costs and calculate how much per portion they will end up paying to produce each catering menu option, and then set prices accordingly. Because an error in these calculations will either result in extra-high prices that customers aren’t willing to pay or a cut in the profit the business owner can enjoy, catering managers must work with care to avoid spending, pricing and budget mistakes.
Limited Customer Interactions
Unlike many in food service, catering managers have limited interactions with customers. As Nash Community College in North Carolina informs its potential catering management trainees, individuals in this field often work either in event catering or in large operations, such as schools and hospitals. Because they don’t often actively work in food delivery, they may rarely see the individuals they are feeding. Instead, they interact most with the cooks and food servers, orchestrating the whole operation from behind the scenes.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.