Most caterers own their own businesses and are, therefore, self-employed. Caterers, however, do have many different types of clients. Individuals may need catering services for a party or special family celebration. Industrial clients, such as company cafeterias, airlines, country clubs, schools, banquet halls, cruise ships, and hotels, may require catering services on a large scale or at regular intervals.
Most caterers begin their careers after graduating from college with a degree in a program such as family and consumer science or finishing a culinary training program at a vocational school or community college.
Qualified individuals can begin working as a manager for a large catering firm or as a manager for a hotel or country club or banquet service. Those most likely to start a catering business will have extensive experience and sufficient finances to purchase equipment and cover other start-up costs. Developing skills to market one's catering business will be critical to success.
As with most service-oriented businesses, the success of a caterer depends on the quality of work and a good reputation. Well-known caterers can expand their businesses, often growing from a small business to a larger operation. This may mean hiring assistants and buying more equipment in order to be able to serve a larger variety of clientele. Caterers who initially worked out of their own home kitchens may get an office or relocate to another area in order to take advantage of better catering opportunities. Sometimes successful caterers use their skills and reputations to secure full-time positions in large hotels or restaurants as banquet coordinators and planners. Independent caterers may also secure contracts with industrial clients, such as airlines, hospitals, schools, and corporations, to staff their cafeterias or supply food and beverages. They may also be employed by such companies to manage their food operations.
Tips for Entry
Use social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend the National Association for Catering and Events’ annual conference to network and interview for jobs.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.