Career Choice: Restaurant Manager

Career Choice: Restaurant Manager
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    Do you to have a college degree to head up a restaurant? In many cases, no.

    Can a college degree coupled with work experience help you in your food service career? Absolutely.


It can also help you move up the ladder and supervise a chain of restaurants, manage a franchise or oversee a fine dining establishment. In any case, a bachelor’s degree in business administration or hospitality management can help you prepare to run a restaurant.

Restaurant managers do it all and are expected to know it all. This includes how to supervise workers who prepare and serve food; managing financial activities including daily receipts; monthly, quarterly and annual reports; ordering and managing inventory and keeping up with industry changes. Restaurant managers must train subordinates including junior managers and line workers; meet and greet customers; prepare menus; and conform to local, state and federal laws concerning employment and food safety; and market their restaurants.


Food service managers receive the bulk of their training on the job. At some restaurants, particularly those serving fast food, managers come from the ranks of line workers, starting off as shift managers and working their way up to assistant and co-manager. Thus, experience is essential to attaining a lead manager’s position with education making the process smoother and faster for the talented manager. Apprenticeship programs, certified by the American Culinary Federation, offer another path to restaurant management for candidate managers.


The mean annual wage for restaurant supervisors, including managers, was $31,770 as of May 2010 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay, however, varies widely with the lowest levels of pay reserved for junior managers and those working at fast food restaurants. The pay range for this position was $19,550 to $47,630, with the median salary coming in at $29,560. The middle 50 percent earned $23,120 to $38,230 per year.


About half of all restaurant supervisors work for limited service restaurants, which includes fast food restaurants, cafes and cafeterias. These managers earned an average annual salary of $28,580 or almost $3,200 less than the national average. The second largest employers were full service restaurants, offering an average salary of $34,290 per year. Top pay, averaging $73,910 per year, was given to managers employed by the federal government. Those employed by states averaged $41,330 per year.


Average pay for restaurant managers varies greatly across the United States, with top pay offered to those employed in the District of Columbia. D.C. restaurant managers earned an average salary of $41,000 per year. States offering top pay included New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont, averaging $38,870, $38,450 and $36,950, respectively. Among the states where pay was well below average were Idaho at $25,710 and Tennessee at $26,830. Top metropolitan area pay was found in the northeast, with wages ranging from $40,680 in the Edison-New Brunswick, New Jersey, area to $42,270 in Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey.

Job Forecast

The best pay and most coveted positions in restaurant management are those opportunities at high-end restaurants. These positions are also among the hardest to get, but offer career satisfaction to those who attain such assignments. The BLS forecasts that the growth rate for all restaurant supervisors will be about 7 percent from 2008 to 2018, but high turnover will provide additional opportunities for manager candidates.


O-Net Online: Summary Report for: 35-1012.00 – First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; Chefs, Head Cooks, and Food Preparation and Serving Supervisors

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Employment Statistics; 35-1012 First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers

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Categories: Career Planning