How do I Choose the Best Program for Restaurant Management?

K. Testa

The best programs for restaurant management teach aspiring managers to deal with multiple facets of the food service industry, from food handling and preparation to business management and customer relations. Restaurant managers usually require the culinary background and food knowledge to oversee all aspects of food service as well as some sales or marketing experience and the ability to promote a business. They also typically need certain professional skills to deal with both their coworkers and the public. In addition, restaurant managers often need training in human resources in order to hire, supervise, and fire staff as needed. In general, the best restaurant management programs teach most of these skills, incorporating hands-on training with relevant academic coursework.

Restaurant management programs should cover staff training.
Restaurant management programs should cover staff training.

Restaurant managers have a number of business venues from which to choose, including formal eateries, fast food franchises, and large catering businesses, to name just a few. Depending on the type of business he or she wants to oversee, the educational path to restaurant management can vary. Some professionals work their way up from food preparation or service to assistant manager, and finally to manager. Others are recruited directly into management roles after completing a formal degree program.

To choose the best program, aspiring restaurant managers should first decide if they want to work at a formal or informal restaurant.
To choose the best program, aspiring restaurant managers should first decide if they want to work at a formal or informal restaurant.

Practical experience is usually considered just as valuable as formal coursework. On-the-job training for restaurant managers is customary in the food service industry, especially in many fast food chains. Specific examples of some common courses include food safety and sanitation; nutrition; and business classes, such as personnel management and record keeping. Some large employers will pay for additional technical training courses for their employees. As a result, business owners usually benefit from having a skilled workforce, and the employees enjoy the advantage of potential advancement at little or no cost to them.

Creative types with a specific interest in food often attend a culinary school to become chefs first, and they might pursue restaurant management later. In culinary school, one can study basic cooking techniques as well as focus on a specific culinary area, such as baking and pastry arts. For culinary students who have already decided to focus on management opportunities, many schools offer restaurant management certificates and degrees. Depending on the location, students can choose from various on-campus or online programs.

Additional post-secondary educational opportunities typically include certification programs and two- or four-year degree programs. These programs often teach a combination of business skills and industry-specific knowledge, which can include accounting, sales, and management, along with food planning and preparation, for instance. Other useful courses include business software and other technologies that help with productivity and promoting efficient business practices. Many schools also offer four-year programs in fields such as restaurant and hospitality management, combined with business administration.

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