From education to employment

Careers in catering: roles to considered

The hospitality industry is about much more than simply waiting on tables! The breadth of available roles is something which continues to appeal to new recruits, offering a whole host of challenges and opportunities.

Not all career opportunities are obvious though — and there’s certainly a few hidden gems to uncover! Take a look through this run down of some of the most interesting roles available in the catering industry.

Food inspector

With an increasing emphasis on allergies and manufacturing practice, the food inspector industry is thriving. Many food and beverage companies have placed a lot of focus onto their health and safety departments for this reason, and as a food manufacturing inspector, you’ll be at the forefront of these all-important processes.

Your day to day duties could include inspecting conditions in processing plants, carrying out quality control checks, testing samples of raw ingredients and processed products, presenting results and interpreting data, ensuring that practices meet the required standards, checking labelling is sufficient, producing quality reports and advising manufacturers on how to improve, as well as issuing warning notices if standards are not being met. The training processes relating to these roles is meticulous, due to the complexity of the work.

Getting started

To get started on your career path, GCSE education or an equivalent certificate is usually a requirement, but candidates could also pursue various apprenticeships. The level 2 award in food catering certificate, or a level 3 award in supervising food safety in catering are options to look out for. College curse such as the Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations is also recommended, providing a combination of taught work and hands-on experience. Candidates could apply directly to a vacancy or gain experience in the field then progress through an existing position.

Pay expectations and working hours

At entry level, a starting wage in this role can be around the £15,000, and an experienced professional can expect up to £30,000. The typical hours are set between 40-42 per week, and the role can involve being on call. For this reason, a driving license can prove advantageous.

Food technologist / food scientist

As a food technologist, you will essentially become the equivalent of Willy Wonka — which will make for a great response when people ask what it is that you do at parties! This is one of the most interesting roles in the production side of the catering industry, wherein you’ll be responsible for devising and testing new flavours, products and ensuring safe consumption. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of exactly what they eat, and this is being incorporated into the production line, testing and labelling these ‘zero fat’ and ‘high protein’ products that have become commonplace in supermarket aisles. You’ll also be involved in investing new ways to keep food fresh, attractive and safe, as well as finding ways to cut costs and save time in production. Along with blending new recipes, experimenting and creating sample products, you might also design the manufacturing machinery.

Getting started

A degree is a common route into either of these roles, but apprenticeships and workplace progression can also lead to a position as a food scientist. Relevant higher education awards include food science, food studies and food technology. Chemistry and nutrition can also lend themselves to securing a role as a food technologist or scientist, but overall some hands-on experience is always invaluable. Other options include the food technologist advanced apprenticeship, and progression from this could lead to a food industry technical professional degree apprenticeship. Those in employment can work towards these roles, in positions such as a lab assistant or a food technician, gaining qualifications while employed.

Pay expectations and working hours

A working week could range from 39-41 hours, and a starting wage is around £20,000, rising to anywhere around £45,000 for those with experience. These roles might involve shift work, and this is predominantly during the evening.

Catering Manager

The catering industry is an intensely social sector to work in. Catering is a the backbone to many large conferences, parties, weddings and other events. Nowadays, catering can be used to create unique experiences for a whole host of purposes, and as a catering manager you can be as creative as you want in this sense. From making contacts in the right places, to securing a catering plan that will make people’s big events as memorable as possible, the job is extremely varied. This role relies heavily upon communication, initiative and leadership, as well as the ability to think outside of the box. You’ll be at the helm of brining together one-in-a-lifetime events for your clients, and no two days will be the same as a catering manager. Daily, you could be required to organise shifts and rotas, recruit and train staff, meet suppliers and negotiate contracts, cater for dietary requirements and plan various budgets.

Getting started

Many hotels and venues are looking increasingly to provide their own, innovative training schemes in order to attract more people into internal roles. In fact, numerous hotels offer these initiatives, as the catering industry continues to grow. Many catering managers start off as graduates or on an entry-level scheme, learning on the job and attending courses in order to gain the relevant qualifications. It is certainly worthwhile looking into such establishments in your location, finding out where these schemes are available. Experience is favoured, even if it is just in the form of a generic events management/ catering role. Apprenticeships to pursue for a role as a catering manager will be focused on management, and a college courses to consider is the Higher National Diploma in Hospitality Management.

Pay expectations and working hours

A new starter can expect a wage of anywhere in the region of £19,000, and an experienced catering manager can earn up to £40,000 depending on location. The hours for this role are slightly more than any typical catering position, working up to 41-43 hours per week. It can be demanding, and often working patterns will fall on weekends and can include bank holidays.

So, could your next role be within the catering industry?

Related Articles