What Can I Do with a Degree in Catering?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in catering. Find information on catering careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular online culinary schools that prepare students for careers in catering.


Catering is often thought of as simply the delivery and serving of food to guests at a party or event. While delivery and serving of the food are important components of catering, success in this profession requires a synthesis of culinary, people and business skills. Caterers must be able to develop menus that are both tasty and affordable. These professionals are also responsible for presenting food in an aesthetical pleasing manner. Caterers must be able to work with customers to give them exactly what they want. Owners of small catering companies must also be able to promote their organizations to acquire additional business.

Based on this review, it is evident that successful catering requires the professional to have a number of different skills outside of food preparation and service. In order to prepare for a career in catering, professionals may seek post-secondary education in culinary arts and/or business management. Educational programs provided at vocational schools may be appropriate for culinary arts training. For professionals focused on the business aspect of catering, a four year degree in hospitality or restaurant management may be preferable. Depending on the specific career path selected by the professional, hands on experience in the business may also be needed for success.


The scope of careers available for professions in the catering industry is quite extensive. Many individuals interested in catering may choose to open their own catering company. Professionals that choose this career option will be responsible for providing food service for individuals and organizations (e.g., children’s birthday parties, corporate luncheons, etc.). Additionally, catering professionals may choose to operate a mobile catering business that provides food to customers in specific locations (e.g., pastries provided for breakfast or lunch carts in offices). In addition to owning a catering business, those with formal education in management may also seek positions in restaurants and hotels as food service managers. In these positions, professionals will be responsible for overseeing all food preparation activities undertaken by the organization. Professionals may also seek employment with industrial catering companies that provide service to large venues and events. In these positions, caterers may fill a number of different roles including food preparation, food service and management of employees.

Industry Salary Info

Salaries for professionals working in the catering industry vary widely depending on the specific career path chosen. Salaries can range from a low of $22,800 annually to a high of more than $200,000 annually. On average, caterers can expect to make $75,000 a year. Higher salaries are possible for those seeking management positions and initiating their own catering companies. Earnings for professionals that own a catering company will be contingent upon variables other than food preparation and service. Individuals in this market will need to have necessary business skills to market and promote their catering company. Even though salaries for caterers are quite generous overall, the nature of the work is physically demanding. Caterers often spend a considerable amount of time on their feet and work evenings and weekends. Caterers that are self-employed may not have access to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off or paid vacation time.

Job Outlook

Job growth for catering is anticipated to be above average though 2018, representing a bright spot in the food service industry. Increased demand for catering services will fuel the need for reputable companies that can provide needed food service at an affordable price. Growth in job opportunities in commercial and industrial catering companies should accelerate in the coming years. Commercial and industrial catering companies care able to achieve economies of scale in operations, enabling them to provide clients with low cost catering options. Individuals willing to start their own catering companies will also have access to additional opportunities. Once established, catering companies are typically able to secure long-term contracts with clients. As such, successful catering company owners should be able to achieve stable employment in their field. Professionals with advanced education in management and business will have more flexibility in selecting a career and will benefit from growth in the hospitality and restaurant industries.

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