A food service specialist assists with handling and preparing food, serving diners, and providing customer service as needed by the establishment for which he works. In some cases, a person in this position may also have food safety and inventory responsibilities. You will usually need a high school diploma to become a food service specialist, but some companies may hire you with less education as long as you have basic reading, writing, and math skills. Taking food service courses may improve your chances of landing a job but typically isn't mandatory. You will likely receive training on the job to get ready for this position, which may include one-on-one training with a supervisor or experienced worker, or training provided in a classroom or online.
A high school diploma is often required when you want to become a food service specialist, though some employers will hire candidates without regard to educational level. A college education isn't usually required for a job in this field, but most employers will expect you to have basic knowledge and skills. For example, you will typically need the ability to do basic math and be able to read and write. Often, the ability to use a computer is required and some knowledge of nutrition may help improve your chances of securing a job.
Though not required by all employers, some may give preference to individuals who have completed food-handling classes. Such classes are often offered through vocational schools and community colleges, though a jurisdiction's health department may provide them as well. This type of course can provide you with knowledge you can use throughout your food service career. For instance, it will likely cover subjects such as proper handling of food and kitchen safety. Often, such a course also covers the prevention of food poisoning and proper cleaning techniques.
While previous experience is usually welcomed when you want to land a food service job, many employers provide training for new food service specialists. Often, the training is handled on the job and is provided by a company supervisor, an experienced food service specialist, or both. In many cases, the training you receive will include following a supervisor or employee as he performs his job and observing how he conducts himself. Later, you may perform your duties accompanied by the supervisor or employee until he feels you are ready to strike out on your own.
Sometimes the training you need to become a food service specialist includes a classroom or online component. In such a case, your employer might provide a training program you will complete along with other new hires or ask you to tackle online training on your own. Some employers may also include manuals as part of the training program you complete to become a food service specialist. Typically, such programs cover food service equipment, company policies, food-handling requirements, and sometimes pricing and customer service procedures.