Caterers prepare and serve food and beverages for parties and other special events, including weddings and funerals, business meetings, and banquets. They may work independently or on-premises for a business, such as a resort or hotel. Caterers may be directly involved in the cooking and preparation of food as well as administrative tasks, such as accounting and staff management. Generally speaking, they oversee an entire catering business or department.
Most caterers have completed some kind of degree program in culinary management. Culinary management degree programs award anything from a two-year associate degree to a master’s and focus on the business aspects of catering and event planning. Coursework may include food and beverages operations management, event management, strategic planning and marketing, and fundamentals of accounting. Students are also taught food and kitchen safety and how to develop balanced menus. A small number of catering career diplomas or certificates can be completed entirely or almost entirely online. These programs may take as little as four months to complete and, along with the business aspects of culinary management, utilize online videos and DVDs to teach students how to cook and prepare select dishes. Depending on local and state requirements, caterers may need to take additional classes on health laws in order to become certified or licensed.