How Do I Become a Food Service Director?

K. Testa

An individual can follow one of several paths in order to become a food service director. For example, someone can work his or her way up from cook, server, beverage preparer, or counter attendant. While restaurant experience is important, food service directors are increasingly required to have a two- or four-year degree in a field such as restaurant and hospitality management or food service management, however. When trying to become a food service director, a person can often set himself or herself apart from other candidates by completing internships and other types of specialized training. Certain business skills and personality traits that will help him or her succeed at managing food service typically are needed as well.

A food service director can work their way up from cook or server.
A food service director can work their way up from cook or server.

Completing a practical training program is one way for someone to become a food service director. Such a program could be limited to on-the-job training, or it might entail a special program that normally offers two components: classroom work and practical experience. Typical courses might include nutrition, sanitation, and food safety, along with customer satisfaction and other human resource topics. Many aspiring food service directors also study personnel management, along with learning computer and other technical skills.

A food service director may be responsible for hiring chefs.
A food service director may be responsible for hiring chefs.

Someone might also pursue an academic degree in order to become a food service director. Many community colleges, for instance, offer an associate’s degree or other form of certification in this field. For more advanced training, one might obtain a bachelor’s degree in institutional food service management or restaurant and hospitality management. In the U.S., several graduate programs are also available in these fields. In addition to traditional classroom training, a practical internship can help someone become a food service director as well.

Food service directors often are charged with overseeing food safety and ensuring that workers avoid preparing or handling food in ways that are unsanitary.
Food service directors often are charged with overseeing food safety and ensuring that workers avoid preparing or handling food in ways that are unsanitary.

In most areas, a business owner first needs to acquire a business license, along with a food and beverage preparation license. To become a food service director in the U.S., he or she might also obtain voluntary certification as a Foodservice Management Professional (FMP). After achieving a certain level of practical experience and passing a written exam, a food service worker is awarded the FMP certification by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Some personal qualifications needed to become a food service director include leadership ability and good customer relations skills. Good people skills in general are usually necessary in order for someone to market and promote his or her business. Flexibility is often cited as a necessary trait as well, as advancement in the field might require relocation in order to pursue other opportunities, such as opening one’s own franchise.

A food service director may open their own franchise.
A food service director may open their own franchise.

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