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Information on Catering Schools and Careers

Like food? Like organizing events? Caterers are chefs and businesspeople who work with clients to provide foods, refreshments, and related services for special events. Caterers enjoy a career that changes daily, since the events they organize are never the same.   

Catering

What Do You Need To Know as a Caterer?

Though businesses differ in the kind of food served and the extent of services offered, caterers need to have three aspects of the industry under control:

Cooking and décor (the creative side): Great caterers are creative with the services they provide. This involves creating a menu tailored to the organized event. A small, midday wedding that is beach themed, for example, may merit dishes that differ from those served at an evening corporate event.

Logistics (the planning side): Caterers need to be aware of the many moving parts necessary for putting on a successful event. After working out the event details and budgets with clients, caterers order food ingredients, alcohol, and supplies. Staff needs to coordinated, equipment needs to be rented, and depending on the location, special permitting may need to be organized as well. Food is another part of the logistics, since caterers need to plan ahead for food preparation and transportation to the event location.

Business (the numbers and strategic side): Just like running a successful restaurant, caterers need to know how to turn hard work into a profit. Caterers should have a good grasp on pricing and cost control, branding strategies for establishing an identity in the market, potential advertising tools, and general finances. A solid understanding of sales strategies is also important when securing bids, especially for catering director roles.

What Does a Catering Company Look Like?

Catering can take many forms, ranging from the informal to the upscale, small events to large, and working for an employer to owning your own business.

In general, catering companies identify as either an on-premise or off-premise catering company. Employees of on-premise businesses work at the event site. Many restaurants, hotels, resorts, cruise liners and event centers have catering divisions that are responsible for planning and orchestrating special events. However, with an off-premise business, planning takes place away from the event location and food, equipment, and staff are later transported to the site.

Additionally, catering companies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. On- and off-premise businesses can involve few or many employees, preparing events for 30 or 3,000 people. Catering companies can also differ in the kinds of services they provide. Some specialize in cakes and pastries, while others specialize in Indian cuisine. Some are responsible for the food itself and assist clients with ordering other services, such as event tables and dinnerware, while others roll up their sleeves and take care of all aspects of the event.

All of these operations require workers who know and love food and who can tackle the logistics of event planning.

Essential Catering Career Skills

Aside from culinary skills, to become a caterer you must have both good business and people skills. Good caterers are patient, detail-oriented, flexible, and organized. They can manage both schedules and teams of people and can keep impeccable records. They work well under stress (wedding clients, for instance, expect a perfect evening), can think on their feet (important if a server calls in sick), and have the drive to work hard. Good health is also important due to the physically demanding nature of catering.

Is Catering School or a Catering Degree Necessary?

Many people are able to enter the profession without a formal education or degree. These caterers enter the profession in entry-level positions in restaurants, hotels, or catering companies and work their way up with experience. On-the-job exposure to the workings of businesses is especially important.

However, many others have found a formal education to be a strong asset. Culinary courses, for example, can provide a valuable learning space for catering hopefuls to perfect their craft and hone their understanding of menus and nutrition. Additionally, business courses in marketing, accounting, and finance can prove indispensable for students interested in running their own company or assuming a leadership role. Colleges offering culinary arts programs, hospitality or hotel management programs, and restaurant management programs are good sources of relevant business training. Industry veterans find that a formal education, combined with work experience in the industry, can be a powerful combination on a resume.

Want To Learn More About Culinary Arts and Management Degrees?

Guides to culinary arts degrees, hospitality degrees, and restaurant management degrees provide additional information on different degree programs, course content, and careers.

Additional Resources on Careers in Catering
National Association of Catering Executives (NACE)
International Special Events Society (ISES)
American Culinary Federation (ACF)
Bureau of Labor Statistics career information for chefs, foodservice managers and lodging managers

Featured Catering Schools

Check out this directory of Catering schools and institutes to get started!

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1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
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  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
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  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
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  • Online Courses
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  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
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  • 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.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
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Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
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  • Online Courses
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  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
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  • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
  • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
  • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
  • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
  • Helps graduates find employment and coaches those who are looking to start their own business.
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  • Ranked #11 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
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  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
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  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
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  • Financial Aid
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NCP College of Nursing , South San Francisco

NCP is a California State approved College of Nursing that serves the San Francisco Bay Area. Our nursing programs are attended by many students from nearby of San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Pacifica, Millbrae, Brisbane, San Mateo, Burlingame, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Union City, Fremont, Concord and San Jose.

  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Houses one of the largest library systems in the Pacific Northwest, with 3 libraries on the Pullman campus and a library at each regional campus.
  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
  • Has 5 Washington campuses in Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and Everett.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
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  • Transferable Credits
UEI College , El Monte
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Students can complete an entry-level technician program in about a year, and manufacturer training and graduate in as little as 18 months.
  • Provides technical education training programs for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, and marine technicians.
  • Partners with many well-known manufacturers, including General Motors, Porsche Cars North America Inc., and BMW of North America LLC.
  • Offers internships to students and alumni for first-hand experience.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2014 & 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Ranked #7 Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Has over 240,000 alumni on record, including Joseph Biden, Stephen Crane, Dick Clark, and Joyce Carol Oates.
  • Offers study abroad programs in several countries all over the world.
  • Has achieved accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
  • Its main campus is located in Syracuse, New York, with extended campuses in a number of major metro cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, and more.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

You can advance your career with a degree from Charter College Online. We offer several Associates and Bachelors degrees in the business, health care, accounting and legal fields. Our accelerated programs are designed to help you complete your degree as quickly as possible. We offer year-round classes and flexible scheduling - study anytime from anywhere. We help students get not only with the technical skills necessary for success, but also job search and placement assistance so you can find new opportunities after graduation.

  • Online Courses
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Offers programs in film, game production & design, animation & VFX, music production, and more.
  • Features several on-campus facilities, including recording studios, sound stages, threatres, and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Financial Aid