Food Service Industry Job Outlook
Wage and salary jobs in food services and drinking places are expected to increase by 8 percent over the 2008–18 period, slightly less than that 11 percent growth rate projected for all industries combined. Numerous job opportunities will be available for people with limited job skills, first-time job seekers, senior citizens, and those seeking part-time or alternative work schedules.
A growing population that increasingly prefers the convenience of eating out and having their meals prepared for them will contribute to job growth and a wider variety of employment settings in which to work. All sectors of the industry are expected to generate numerous jobs. The numbers of limited-service eateries and fast-casual restaurants that specialize in serving soups, salads, and sandwiches made to order on the spot will grow as time-strapped diners seek out healthful menu alternatives while on the go. In contrast, traditional fast-food and quick-service restaurants that appeal to younger diners and those consumers whose first priority is convenience should increase more slowly than in the past.
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Moderately priced restaurants that offer table service will afford increasing job opportunities, as these businesses expand to accommodate the needs of a more mobile population and families with young children. Fine dining establishments should grow less rapidly as diners opt for more casual meals and service.
The food service contracting sector of this industry will continue to grow as more schools, sports arenas, and company cafeterias contract out their food services to these firms. Additionally, the contracting out of personal chefs, who prepare and store meals in clients' homes for later reheating and serving, is becoming more common.
Those who qualify—either through experience or formal culinary training—for skilled head cook and chef positions should be in demand because of the need for skilled cooks to replace chefs that leave the occupation due to the long hours. Employment of salaried managers is projected to increase more slowly than the average for the industry, as more chain restaurants concentrate these workers in regional offices. Employment of self-employed managers in independent food services and drinking places is expected to grow more slowly.
Job opportunities in food services and drinking places should be very good, because the large number of young and part-time workers in the industry will generate substantial replacement needs. A large number of job openings will be created for new entrants as experienced workers find jobs in other, higher paying establishments, seek full-time opportunities outside the industry, or stop working. The greatest number of job openings will be in the two largest occupations—waiters and waitresses and combined food-preparation and serving workers—which also have high replacement needs.
Graduates of college hospitality programs, particularly those with good computer skills, should have especially good opportunities at higher end full service establishments. The growing dominance of chain-affiliated food services and drinking places also should enhance opportunities for advancement from food-service manager positions into general manager and corporate administrative jobs.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition
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