How Do I Become a Food and Beverage Manager?

So we’re all on the same page, what is a food and beverage manager? A food and beverage manager position is simply a different phrasing of restaurant or bar manager. Sometimes food and beverage managers will manage restaurants, lounges, clubs, and bars. Basically, a food and beverage manager oversees operations in venues that are food or drink centered. Food and beverage managers are responsible for a variety of general managerial tasks including human resources, hiring, establishing protocols, scheduling, and revenue management, as well as food or beverage centered responsibilities such as overseeing quality products, pricing, and the satisfaction of customers.

Food and Beverage Manager Career Outlook

Food and beverage managers are required at nearly every food and drink establishment. As one might expect, this means there is a great deal of opportunity for food and beverage managers. Whether just moving into a managerial role, finishing school in hospitality management, or a veteran manager, prospects are good for food and beverage managers nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for food and beverage managers is $50,820 (or $24.43 an hour). As one might expect, this rate varies greatly along with the location of employment as well as the quality of the establishment managed. A general range of salaries that might be expected depending on location range from $45,000 to $90,000. Meanwhile, food and beverage managers who also own their on establishment can expect to earn much more contingent on the success of their business. For a position that often only holds a minimum requirement of a high school degree and experience, this is quite a lucrative position with great room for growth. Nationwide, the number of food and beverage manger jobs is expected in increase by 9% from 2016-2026 (even with the average expansion of all jobs nationwide).

Becoming a Food and Beverage Manager through Education

While technically many food and beverage manager positions only require high school degrees (and work experience), many more competitive positions do require further education in hospitality management, culinary arts, or general management. A wide variety of degree levels may be used to obtain a food and beverage manager. And while one can certainly quality for a food and beverage manager position with any degree, degrees that focus on restaurant and bar management will help applicants stand out even more. Such degrees can include associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or MBAs in hospitality management. Furthermore, some combination of certifications such as the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification, continuing education credits through the National Restaurant Association, or online courses to enhance areas you do not have experience in will set you apart even further. If you’re interested in pursuing a flexible online degree for becoming a food and beverage manager, check out our rankings of online hospitality management degrees. If you’d like to look at a comprehensive list of online hospitality management courses, check out our comprehensive guide on the subject.

Becoming a Food and Beverage Manager through Experience

A second route to becoming a food and beverage manager is to start by working in an entry level position in a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or coffee shop. Entry level positions such as server, busboy, host, bartender, and so on often help by giving individuals experience with the exact sort of business conundrums that food and beverage managers help to solve. Generally more senior roles can be graduated to by individuals who work hard. And after several years the potential to jump into lower managerial ranks can present itself. Oftentimes individuals who work from entry level jobs into managerial ranks will be provided with a good deal of on the job training. There is more opportunity for working your way into a managerial position in some establishments than others. So if you are interested in this route, you may want to inquire about the ability to work your way to advancement when you interview with a new establishment.

Once you’ve worked your way into a food and beverage manager position, you’ll probably want to stick around to gain more experience in the role. Depending on the importance of food and beverage management positions, they often require that candidates have 1-5 years of experience in food and beverage manager positions. The longer one can stay in an initial food and beverage manager position, the likelier one may be able to advance farther, or have a wider choice of future positions at other establishments.

While the fact that many food and beverage manager positions require at least a year of experience in a similar role may seem like a catch-22, there are also other ways to make the leap from entry level to management level positions. Asking to gain experience in roles throughout a restaurant as well as showing initiative through taking online courses or pursuing certifications can help you stand out from competition. One of the most common certifications can be studies for with largely free online resources, and is called the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification. Many associates-level programs in hospitality management also help to prepare students for certifications and are often cheaper and quicker than other degrees. If you’re just looking to enhance expertise in specific skills, a wide variety of free and paid online courses in hospitality management are also available. These courses often provide certificates of completion that may be added to resumes. While these courses are often not viewed as the equivalent of a degree in a hospitality-related discipline, with work experience they may often be enough to bypass formal education.


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