Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants or other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and they manage the business to ensure that it runs efficiently.


Food service managers typically do the following:

  • Hire, train, discipline, and sometimes fire employees
  • Order food and beverages, equipment, and supplies
  • Oversee food preparation and other kitchen operations
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas
  • Ensure that employees comply with health and food safety standards
  • Address complaints regarding food quality or service
  • Schedule staff hours and assign duties
  • Manage budgets and payroll records
  • Establish standards for personnel performance and customer service

Managers coordinate activities of the kitchen and dining room staff to ensure that customers are served properly and in a timely manner. They oversee orders in the kitchen, and, if needed, they work with the chef to remedy service delays.

Food service managers are responsible for all functions of the business related to employees, including overseeing staffing and scheduling workers for each shift. During busy periods, managers may expedite service by helping to serve customers, process payments, or clean tables.

Managers also arrange for cleaning and maintenance of the equipment and facility in order to comply with health and sanitary regulations. For example, they may arrange for trash removal, pest control, and heavy cleaning when the dining room and kitchen are not in use.

In addition, managers have financial responsibilities that include budgeting, ensuring cash flow, and monitoring operational costs. They may set sales goals and determine promotional items.

Most managers prepare the payroll and manage employee records. They also may review or complete paperwork related to licensing, taxes and wages, and unemployment compensation. Although they sometimes assign these tasks to an assistant manager or a bookkeeper, most managers are responsible for the accuracy of business records.

Some managers add up the cash and charge slips and secure them in a safe place. They also may check that ovens, grills, and other equipment are properly cleaned and secured and that the establishment is locked at the close of business.

Work Environment

Food service managers held about 329,100 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of food service managers were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places        50%
Self-employed workers 33
Special food services 4
Accommodation 2

Full-service restaurants (those with table service) may have a management team that includes a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef.

Food service managers’ work is often hectic, and dealing with dissatisfied customers may be stressful.

Injuries and illnesses

Kitchens are usually crowded and filled with dangerous objects and areas, such as hot ovens and slippery floors. As a result, injuries are a risk for food service managers, who may spend some of their time helping in the kitchen. Common hazards include slips, falls, and cuts. To reduce these risks, managers often wear nonslip shoes while in the kitchen.

Work Schedules

Most food service managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules vary and may include early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be called in at short notice.

Managers of food service facilities or cafeterias in schools, factories, or office buildings may be more likely to work traditional business hours.

Education and Training

Food service managers typically need a high school diploma and several years of experience in the food service industry working as a cook, waiter or waitress, or supervisor of food preparation and serving workers. Some receive additional training at a community college, technical or vocational school, culinary school, or 4-year college.


Food service managers typically need a high school diploma, but education requirements for individual positions may vary from no formal educational credential to a college degree.

Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have postsecondary education, especially for jobs at upscale restaurants and hotels. Some food service companies, hotels, and restaurant chains recruit management trainees from college hospitality or food service management programs. These programs may require the participants to work in internships and to have food-industry–related experiences in order to graduate.

Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hospitality management or institutional food service management, both of which may be part of a personal and culinary services program. Another field of degree that may be helpful for managers is business. In addition, numerous community colleges, technical institutes, and other institutions offer associate’s degree programs. Some culinary schools offer programs in restaurant management with courses designed for those who want to start and run their own restaurant.

Most programs provide instruction in nutrition, sanitation, and food preparation, as well as courses in accounting, business law, and management. Some programs combine classroom and practical study with internships.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most food service managers start working in related jobs, such as cooks, waiters and waitresses, or supervisors of food preparation and serving workers. They often spend years working in the food service industry, gaining experience and learning the necessary skills before they are promoted to manager positions.


Food service managers  typically receive on-the-job training of at least 1 month. Topics covered during this training may include food preparation, sanitation, security, company policies, personnel management, and recordkeeping.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states and localities require that food service managers have food safety certification. For more information, contact your state or local health department.

Although certification is not always required, managers may obtain the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC) by passing a food safety exam. The American National Standards Institute accredits institutions that offer the FPMC.

Personality and Interests

Food service managers typically have an interest in the Building, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a food service manager, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Food service managers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Business skills. Food service managers, especially those who run their own restaurant, must understand all aspects of the restaurant business. They should know how to budget for supplies, set prices, and manage workers to ensure that the restaurant is profitable.

Customer-service skills. Food service managers must be courteous and attentive when dealing with patrons. Satisfying customers’ dining needs is critical for success and ensures customer loyalty.

Detail oriented. Managers deal with many different types of activities. They interact with suppliers, workers, and customers; they make sure there is enough food to serve to customers; they take care of financial records; and they ensure health and food safety.

Leadership skills. Managers must establish good working relationships to ensure a productive work environment. This may involve motivating workers, resolving conflicts, or actively listening to complaints or criticism from customers.

Organizational skills. Food service managers keep track of many different schedules, budgets, and people. This becomes more complex as the size of the restaurant or food service facility increases.

Physical stamina. Food service managers, especially managers working in small establishments or those who run their own business, often work long hours and sometimes spend entire evenings on their feet helping to serve customers.

Problem-solving skills. The ability to resolve personnel issues and customer-related problems is imperative to the work of managers.

Speaking skills. Food service managers must give clear orders to staff and be able to explain information to employees and customers.


The median annual wage for food service managers was $59,440 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,070.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for food service managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Accommodation $73,650
Special food services 70,160
Restaurants and other eating places         58,500

Most food service managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules vary and may include early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be called in at short notice.

Job Outlook

Employment of food service managers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 45,000 openings for food service managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020.

Food service managers will be needed to oversee food preparation and service as people continue to dine out, purchase takeout meals, and have food delivered to their homes or workplaces. However, more dining establishments are expected to rely on chefs and head cooks instead of hiring additional food service managers, which should limit employment growth in this occupation.

For More Information

For more information about the Food Protection Manager Certification, visit

American National Standards Institute

For more information about food service managers, visit

National Restaurant Association

Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management



Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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