How to Become a Restaurant Manager: Forge a Career in Dining

How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Restaurant managers, also called food service managers, are responsible for ensuring that restaurants operate efficiently and profitably while keeping customers satisfied with the dining experience. Not only are restaurant managers required to maintain a restaurant’s business performance, they are also tasked with maintaining high standards for food, service, health, and safety. If you love food and are passionate about providing strong customer service, becoming a restaurant manager may be the right career for you.

Education Requirements for Becoming a Restaurant Manager

High School Diploma is a Minimum

To qualify for restaurant management positions, you need to have at least a high school diploma and significant experience working in the food service industry as a cook, waiter/waitress or counter attendant.

Postsecondary Education is Preferred

Although having a degree is not a requirement, a growing number of employers prefer hiring candidates who have a degree in hospitality, restaurant or food service management. Some employers will accept an associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete and can be pursued at a technical school, vocational school or community college. However, at most upscale hotels and restaurants, a four-year bachelor’s degree in the field is usually preferred.

Graduate Education Can Lead to More Opportunities

If you want to open doors to more career opportunities, you could choose to obtain either a master’s degree in restaurant management, which will require two years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, or a doctoral degree, which may take from three to five years to complete.

Restaurant Management Training Overview

Restaurant Management Courses

Nearly all restaurant management programs provide instruction in the following subjects:

  • Nutrition
  • Sanitation
  • Food planning & preparation
  • Accounting
  • Business law
  • Management
  • Food & beverage control
  • Math for food service records
  • Human resources management for hospitality & food industries
  • Dining room management & operations

Internships

Restaurant management programs typically require students to complete internships to gain hands-on experience. Some food service companies recruit management trainees directly from restaurant management programs.

Voluntary Certification

Although it is not required, you could pursue a voluntary Food Service Management Professional certification from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to demonstrate your skills and competence.

On-the-Job-Training

Restaurant managers may also receive on-the-job training that covers topics like nutrition, sanitation, safety, company policies, personnel management, and recordkeeping.

Restaurant Manager Career Profile

Responsibilities

Restaurant managers ensure that food service facilities run smoothly. They might be in charge of hiring and training employees, managing inventory, overseeing food preparation, scheduling staff, and maintaining budgets, among other duties.

Preferred Qualities

Food service managers need to have strong customer-service, leadership, speaking, and organizational skills. They must also have physical stamina in order to work long shifts standing on their feet.

Work Environment

Restaurant managers work in a variety of food service establishments, including fine-dining restaurants, fast-food chains, franchise restaurants, and institutional food service facilities. 40% of food service managers are self-employed. They typically work long hours and may be required to work on the evenings and the weekends. Busy shifts and situations with unhappy customers can be stressful.

Restaurant Manager Job Outlook

Employment Projections

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of food service managers is expected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Although more dining establishments are expected to open in the coming years, management positions will often be consolidated in order to cut costs. There will be strong competition for restaurant management positions, and the best opportunities will go to those with previous experience and a bachelor’s degree in the field.

Salary

In 2013, the median annual salary for restaurant managers was $48,080. The bottom 10% earned $30,540, and the top 10% earned more than $82,370. The top paying industries for food service managers were outpatient care centers, hospitals, insurance carriers, and air transportation carriers. The top paying states were New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, New York, and Nevada.

Pursuing a Restaurant Management Degree

Now that you know how to become a restaurant manager, consider pursuing a restaurant management degree. A restaurant management education will teach you to combine day-to-day management activities with strategic planning, enabling you to forge a career in this demanding yet rewarding industry.