Careers in Focus: Food Service

The food service industry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about long-term career options, but there are many people out there that choose the food service industry and excel in it. It also offers many opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Food service is one of the industries with a “bright outlook,” and jobs are plentiful, even with a down economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food service industry employed almost 15 million people in 2012 and continues to show a steady yearly increase in jobs.

Many different occupations and sectors comprise the food service industry. It’s not all about restaurants, although these sectors have the brightest outlooks as more and more people choose to eat out for convenience. The various occupations and sectors include, but are not limited to:



  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels/resorts
  • Schools/educational facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Private companies/office buildings
  • Food distribution companies
  • Managers/first-line supervisors
  • Cashiers
  • Sales/marketing
  • Food preparation workers
  • Cooks
  • Chefs and head cooks
  • Waiters/waitresses/servers

Pay varies according to the type of position and level of responsibility, but can be very good: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 average annual wage for food service managers was $47,960, which is comparable to a professional entry-level position requiring a college degree.

Education needed for the various occupations also varies. For most positions, a high school degree is preferred but not necessarily required. As the positions rise above entry level to management, more experience and/or education may be preferred. Individuals who seek positions as food service managers will have the best opportunities by coupling their experience with degrees or certificates in hospitality, restaurant or food service management.

Learn more about the food service industry with GoodProspects, and connect with others interested in the field in the forums.