Job Description:

Caterers run the food service for businesses or at events.

Job Category:
Food & Drink

What you will do:

You may work in an organisation like a school, hospital, hotel or pub, or prepare food to be delivered to food outlets, event sites and homes.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • planning and developing menus to increase sales
  • recruiting and training staff
  • organising shifts and rotas
  • financial planning, managing budgets and stock control
  • meeting suppliers and negotiating contracts
  • monitoring the quality of the service to customers
  • running the business in line with health and safety and food hygiene regulations
  • catering for special diets and meeting nutritional needs

During food service, you’ll supervise the kitchen and waiting staff, ensuring that the food goes out on time and is of a high standard.


You’ll need:

  • business management skills
  • knowledge of food production methods
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills
  • the ability to motivate and manage staff
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Caterer, specific qualifications are not mandatory. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for a career in catering and food services. Caterers are responsible for preparing and serving food at events, parties, or functions. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Food Technology or Home Economics: courses in food technology or home economics can provide you with a foundation in cooking techniques, food safety, and nutrition, which are essential in catering.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks such as portion control, recipe scaling, and budgeting.
  3. Business Studies (Optional): Courses in business studies can be beneficial for understanding business principles, managing finances, and marketing your catering services if you plan to run your own catering business.
  4. Hospitality and Catering (Optional): Some schools offer courses in hospitality and catering, which can be directly related to the field.

Post School

There are no set requirements, but employers will expect a good level of spoken English and ability with numbers. Experience is highly valued, so it will help if you’ve worked in a professional kitchen.

Promotions are often made internally so you could start in a junior role, like catering assistant or assistant manager. You could then study for a qualification in hospitality, catering or food and beverage service, while you’re working.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You may need to pass background checks.

Working Hours and Environment:

Your working hours will depend on which sector you work in.

If you’re based in a school, your working hours are likely to be 9am to 4pm, term time only.

In a hospital, nursing home, hotel, pub or conference centre, you’ll usually work shifts to cover evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

If you’re responsible for the food service over a number of sites, you’re likely to need a full driving licence to travel between them.

This can be a physically active job, as you’ll divide your time between your office, the kitchen and the dining areas.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could move into larger organisations or those offering more specialised work like event catering.

You could also study for further qualifications in hospitality.

Another option is to start up your own contract catering business.