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Caterer Job Profile: Careers on the Move

Job Profile

Catered events run the gamut from simple box lunches to children's parties to cocktail hors d'oeuvres to gala events. They may provide elegant table linens, a different wine for every course, fresh flowers on every table, an ice sculpture, and a laser light display.

Culinary Arts

Caterers: A Day in the Life

Caterers don't just prepare and transport food to events. Depending on the event, location, budget, and client's wishes, you may be required not only to cook delicious, creatively presented dishes but also to design and decorate the site; work with bridal consultants, florists, bakers, and wine experts; find entertainment; and provide portable toilets, tables, chairs, tents, table linen, flatware, glassware, and even limousines. More and more caterers are providing full event planning as consumers grow more wealthy and sophisticated.

Because the catering business is usually seasonal--requiring extremely long days, nights, and weekends during party and wedding seasons but tending to be quieter at other times--you'll probably have a small full-time staff. One of your greatest challenges will be to find talented, dependable part-time help when you need them. Another challenge will be understanding the logistics and economics of cooking for large groups and transporting food while maintaining safety and quality. For most caterers, these challenges are more than offset by the chance to run a business independently.

Caterer Training Requirements

Catering is a complex job combining entrepreneurship, culinary arts, human resources, marketing, organizational skills, and lots of hard physical work, and becoming a successful caterer requires a great deal of training. Much of it can be acquired on the job if you work in a restaurant or for another caterer, but if you're in a hurry to start your own business, you should consider college or culinary school training. For instance, regardless of their culinary prowess, caterers need to to know how to advertise and market themselves, price their services to be competitive but also profitable, and recruit and manage part-time employees who will make the business look good. A number of culinary schools and colleges offer classes and degrees in hospitality and catering.

Salary Information for Caterers

According to the National Restaurant Association, catering is one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. As a caterer, what you earn will depend on many factors. If you work hard, are located in the right city, have the right training and experience, price your services correctly, have a great reputation, and offer in-demand types of catering, you should be able to earn $60,000 per year or more.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            3 Program(s) Found
            Platt College Oklahoma , Oklahoma City
            • Each campus features a public restaurant where culinary students work under the direction of professional chefs for real-world experience.
            • Hosts Platt College’s Food Fight, a friendly dessert competition for students held once a month.
            • Offers programs in culinary arts, nursing, and healthcare.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (AFC) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 5 campuses in Lawton, North and Central Oklahoma City, Moore, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            4 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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            1 Program(s) Found

            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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