A catering manager organises the provision, preparation, delivery and serving of food in various locations. There are two specialisms:
contract caterer – supplying food and service on a regular basis to organisations such as factories, hospitals, schools or the Armed Forces
private caterer – supplying food and service on a smaller scale, usually for people putting on functions and special events at home or in hired venues.
You could be:
giving advice on a suitable menu and planning it out, working out the cost and buying in the food
hiring equipment such as tables, plates, glasses, decorations and flowers
cooking or supervising the cooking of food, ensuring it meets quality standards
delivering the hot or cold food to the customer’s premises and organising the service
packing everything away afterwards, checking for damage
hiring and training staff, either long-term or for a one-off occasion
planning shift rotas and motivating staff to work as a team
negotiating contracts, working within a budget, monitoring stock levels and ordering stock
making sure that health, safety and food hygiene regulations are followed.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries can be around £17,000 to £22,000 a year. With experience this can rise to between £25,000 and £40,000 a year.
Your hours will depend on the type of organisation you work in. For example, in a school hours would be regular, but in other venues, hours could be longer and irregular, including evenings and weekends.
Demand can be seasonal, with lots of orders at certain times such as Christmas, and less at others.
You may travel throughout the day to different places delivering food or be based at one site, such as a school or hospital.
You may be involved in cooking and serving food in a wide range of places – private homes, halls, canteens.
You have to follow health, safety and hygiene rules in unfamiliar places.
It can be an active job where you are on your feet a lot.
You can choose from a wide range of suitable training routes.
Full time study for a qualification such as an HNC (SCQF Level 7), HND (SCQF Level 8) or degree (SCQF Level 9-10) in hospitality management.
A degree in an unrelated subject plus a postgraduate course in hospitality management.
To enter a degree course you need 4-5 Highers and 2 subjects at National 5, including English and Maths. For HNC and HND courses you need 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5.
You might get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in Hospitality (Supervision and Leadership) at SCQF Level 7 or Hospitality Management Skills at SCQF Level 8.
Full time work in catering, perhaps with study for an SVQ or HNC in hospitality leading to promotion into management.
Anyone working with food in Scotland should hold the Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS).
You will usually need a driving licence.
Catering is a growth industry and skilled caterers are in demand everywhere, especially in cities. Vacancies are advertised in jobcentres, in trade journals such as The Caterer and on specialist recruitment websites.
What Does it Take?
a knowledge of health, safety and food hygiene regulations
good organisational skills
excellent communication skills
strong leadership and motivational skills
a head for business and budget skills
a high level of customer service
energy and stamina for working in a busy environment