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How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Restaurant managers are the executives of food. With a bit of food knowledge and a lot of business know-how, these professionals ensure restaurants operate smoothly on every level.

Restaurant manager job description

A restaurant manager's tasks can vary tremendously with title or type of establishment. Still, most perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Employee management: This includes interviewing, hiring, evaluating, and firing staff when necessary. Restaurant managers also oversee scheduling and training functions
  • Financial oversight: This includes overseeing inventory of food, equipment, and supplies; handling employee payroll and tax records; and balancing daily cash and charge receipts against the record
  • Customer service: Restaurant managers make sure all food is served quickly and properly, investigating customer complaints while defusing frustration. When there is a backup in food preparation or service, these managers find out why and resolve the issue
  • General upkeep: Restaurant managers ensure facilities and equipment are properly maintained and arrange for service when necessary
  • Regulation oversight: Restaurant managers ensure that all employees comply with health and food safety standards and that local liquor and fire laws are being enforced

There are a number of positions that fall under the umbrella of restaurant management. The most common include:

  • General manager: Heads the establishment.
  • Assistant manager: Supports the general manager.
  • Executive chef: Cooks and oversees all kitchen staff.
  • Dining room manager: Oversees the front of the house, including host and service staff

Restaurant manager degrees and certifications

Restaurant management positions have historically been filled by those with extensive restaurant experience willing to learn on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that's changing. More employers than ever before are recruiting managers with two- or four-year degrees or professional certifications.

When it comes to formal training, there are a variety of paths to choose from, primarily:

  • Associate degrees in hospitality or food management from two-year community colleges and career training schools.
  • Bachelor's degrees in hospitality or food management from one of nearly 1,000 colleges and universities offering this type of program.
  • Professional certifications like the Certified Restaurant Facility Professional (CRFP) designation, requiring three to five years of professional experience plus an exam.
  • Degrees in related fields like business or travel and tourism, as long as you show an interest and aptitude for food management.

Restaurant management courses typically hone expertise in a variety of areas, including: nutrition, sanitation, food planning and preparation, business law, management, and accounting. Some schools also offer culinary and food preparation courses, which are ideal for those with culinary experience hoping to become executive chefs. The BLS notes that chain or fine-dining restaurants often require restaurant managers to complete intensive training programs in addition to whatever other training they've completed.

Restaurant manager salary and job outlook

Title, work experience, and education impact on how much you can earn as a restaurant manager, but type of establishment is probably the biggest indicator. Here is salary data for related careers from the BLS's May 2014 report:

  • Food Service Managers: $53,500
  • Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers: $34,030
  • First-Line Supervisors: $32,420

The BLS reports that food manager jobs are expected to grow by 5 percent between 2014 and 2024, slightly slower than the 7 percent average for all jobs nationwide. Fortunately, there should still be a number of positions available to budding restaurant managers as their predecessors retire or switch professions.

Investing in a restaurant management degree could improve your earning potential significantly. Earn your degree now and prepare to join the food service industry as it is once again poised for growth in coming years.

Sources:

  • Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

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