dcsimg
Home | Culinary Schools & Culinary Colleges | Catering

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!

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
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.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
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.
  • 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.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
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.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Received the 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.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
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).
Show more [+]
4 Program(s) Found
  • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
  • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
  • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
  • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
  • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, personal approach to education since 1946.
  • Provides associate degrees and short-term certificate programs in business, design, healthcare, and more.
  • Offers alumni free “brush up” classes, allowing graduates to exercise certain skills or software that they may not have used in a while.
  • Gives students many options for campus activities, including intramural sports, drama club, and campus parties.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
  • Provides interactive course materials and unique approaches to curriculum that  support multiple learning styles.
  • Offers a 10% scholarship to eligible active duty, active and drilling members of the Reserve and National Guard. 
  • Its accelerated online courses allow students to learn new course material every 5 ½ weeks.
  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 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
Show more [+]
2 Program(s) Found
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • A private post-secondary institution of higher education serving south-central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland since 1967.
  • Offers associate degrees in specialized business and specialized technology, as well as programs leading to professional certifications and diplomas.
  • Gives each student their own career services specialist who helps keep them focused on their goals.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers career-focused programs in allied health, business, and computer technology, and more.
  • On-the-job training available through externships, internships, and clinical placements.
  • Graduates in good standing can take refresher sessions in courses at no additional cost.
  • Day and evening class options are available for flexible scheduling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
4 Program(s) Found
  • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
  • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
  • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
  • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
  • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Preparing individuals for career opportunities, technology training, and certifications for the medical, culinary arts, HVAC repair, legal, and cosmetology fields since 1934.
  • Has many lecture classes with a maximum of a 30:1 student to teacher ratio, and most lab classes with a maximum of an 18:1 student to teacher ratio.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools.
  • Has locations in Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Lansing, Madison Heights, Roseville, Saginaw, Southgate, Waterford-Pontiac and Wayne-Westland.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year from 2010-2014
  • Day and evening classes are available for flexible scheduling.
  • Offers bachelor’s, associate, and diploma programs in business, culinary arts, criminal justice, cosmetology, and more.
  • Takes a unique “Focused Learning” approach, where students typically take only one class per month to concentrate on one subject with one faculty member at a time.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid