California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers in California

May also be called: Dietary Supervisors; Food Service Supervisors; Kitchen Managers; Food Service Managers; Cafeteria Supervisors; Caterers; and Supervisors of Food and Nutrition Services

What Would I Do?

First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers oversee those who prepare and serve food and beverages in restaurants and institutional facilities. They ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience and resolve complaints when they arise. First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers also recruit, hire, and train new employees. They monitor employee performance on a continuous basis. Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers also have the difficult task of firing employees when necessary.

The job duties for Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers vary depending upon the type and size of establishment. They work in a wide variety of settings including restaurants, schools, hospitals, and prisons; however, their basic duties are similar. They ensure that restaurant or employee cafeteria patrons, students, or hospital patients receive nutritious meals and excellent service. The duties of First-Line Supervisors and Managers should not be confused with those of Restaurant Managers who oversee the operation of an entire restaurant.

In most full-service restaurants and institutional food service facilities, the management team consists of a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef. In smaller restaurants, formal titles may be less important and one person may undertake the work of one or more food service positions. For example, the executive chef may also be the general manager or even sometimes an owner.

First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers schedule work hours making sure that enough workers are present to cover each shift. They plan staffing needs, as well as, equipment and supply requirements. If employees are unable to work, Supervisors and Managers may have to call alternates to cover for them or fill in themselves, when needed. Some Supervisors and Managers may help with seating guests, serving beverages, cutting vegetables, cooking, presenting bills, accepting payments, clearing tables, or other tasks when the restaurant becomes extremely busy.

First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers also record production and operational data on specified forms. They collaborate with other personnel to plan menus and serving arrangements. Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers develop departmental objectives, budgets, policies, procedures, and strategies. They also evaluate new products for usefulness and suitability.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Compile and balance cash receipts at the end of the day or shift.Mathematics
Resolve customer complaints regarding food service.Customer and Personal Service
Train workers in food preparation, and in service, sanitation, and safety procedures.Instructing
Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas to ensure efficient service and conformance to standards.Information Ordering
Control inventories of food, equipment, smallware, and liquor, and report shortages to designated personnel.Problem Sensitivity
Observe and evaluate workers and work procedures in order to ensure quality standards and service.Administration and Management
Assign duties, responsibilities, and work stations to employees in accordance with work requirements.Time Management
Estimate ingredients and supplies required to prepare a recipe.Critical Thinking
Perform personnel actions such as hiring and firing staff, consulting with other managers as necessary.Management of Personnel Resources
Analyze operational problems, such as theft and wastage, and establish procedures to alleviate these problems.Monitoring
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

While it can be very exciting to work in an attractive restaurant setting, meeting new people, it can also be challenging. First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers often experience the pressure of coordinating a wide range of activities. When problems occur, it is the responsibility of the Supervisor and Manager to resolve them with minimal interruption of service. The job can be hectic during peak dining hours, and dealing with upset customers or uncooperative employees can be stressful.

Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers may also experience the typical minor injuries of other restaurant workers, such as muscle aches, cuts, or burns. They might endure physical discomfort from moving tables or chairs to accommodate large parties, receiving and storing daily supplies from vendors, or making minor repairs to furniture or equipment. They also spend a large part of their day working on their feet.

Long and unpredictable work hours are common for Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers. They are among the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. Managers of institutional food service facilities, such as school, factory, or office cafeterias, work more regular hours because the operating hours of these establishments usually conform to the operating hours of the business or facility they serve.

Unions do not usually represent First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers, but those working in government institutions, such as school or college districts, prisons, or State hospitals, can join public employee unions.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers may appeal to those who enjoy starting up and carrying out projects. This occupation satisfies those with enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations involve leading people, making decisions, risk taking and often dealing with business. Additional desired personal qualities for this occupation include good communication skills, initiative, problem solving skills, and self discipline.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2021 for Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors in California was $39,965 annually, or $19.22 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Benefit packages vary from employer to employer. Most First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers employed with larger establishments may expect to receive health insurance, paid vacation, holiday, and sick leave. Those working at government institutions, such as school or college districts, prisons, or State hospitals, also receive pension benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

The need for First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers will remain strong because restaurant and beverage establishments increase as the population grows.

New restaurants are increasingly affiliated with national chains rather than being independently owned and operated. Fewer owners will manage restaurants themselves and more restaurant managers will be employed by larger companies to run establishments.

Technological advances have enhanced the jobs of First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers. They use the Internet to research industry news, purchase supplies, recruit employees, and train staff. Many restaurants maintain Web sites that include menus and on-line promotions. Some restaurants use point-of-service (POS) systems that allow servers to key in customers’ orders using a hand-held device that immediately sends the order to the kitchen. Some Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers use inventory-tracking software to compare sales with a record of the current inventory.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors are expected to increase by 16.0 percent, or 16,600 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Total Job
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

There are a number of ways to become a First-Line Supervisor/Manager of Food Preparation and Serving Workers due to the range of training options available. Many employers prefer to hire applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. Also, many restaurant and food service manager positions, especially in self-service and fast-food, are filled by promoting experienced food and beverage preparation and service workers from within the company.

A large number of restaurant chains and food service management companies offer training programs for new Managers. Through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training, they receive instruction and gain work experience in all aspects of the operation of a restaurant or institutional food service facility.

Community colleges and vocational or technical schools offer hospitality management programs that lead to an associates degree or formal certification. Many four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in restaurant and food service management or institutional food service management. A bachelor’s degree offers strong preparation for a career in restaurant and hospitality management and enhances opportunities for future advancement into higher management positions, or jobs in high-end restaurants.


Work experience in restaurant establishments as a server or cook provides excellent training for First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers. Many restaurant chains promote competent employees with proven ablities into management trainee programs.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in restaurant supervision and management careers should take courses in business, computer technology, English, home economics, and mathematics. Computer technology courses are important because Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers may use inventory tracking software to keep records of sales and current inventory. Also, Supervisors/Managers may prepare spread sheets to track profits and losses.

Work Study Programs

Training programs for Food and Hospitality Services, and Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation are available through Regional Occupational Programs. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.


Although not a requirement for employment or advancement in the occupation, those who obtain certification may gain recognition of professional competence. The Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification and ServSafe® Manager certification is a measure of professional achievement for First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers. The Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association offers these certificates and others related to food service management. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Baking, Cooking, Culinary, Dietetic, Food, and Restaurant.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Full-Service Restaurants76.5%
Special Food Services2.2%
State Government1.1%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Many vocational schools operate placement centers for their students. Jobs may also be found through classified advertisements in newspapers and trade publications. State and county personnel administration offices provide job announcements and related entrance requirements. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors.

  • Cafeterias
  • Caterers
  • Food & Beverage Consultants
  • Food Brokers
  • Food Processing Consultants
  • Food Products
  • Food Service Management
  • Restaurants

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Experience in the food services industry as a server or counter attendant provides crucial training for a Supervisor and Manager of Food Preparation and Serving Workers. Servers and beverage preparation workers who demonstrate the potential for handling increased responsibility may advance to assistant manager or management trainee positions. A willingness to relocate is often necessary to promote to higher positions. Managers usually advance to larger establishments or regional management positions within restaurant chains. Some may enter self-employment, opening their own restaurant establishment.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Food Preparation and Serving Workers Supervisors with links to more information.

Chefs and Head CooksGuide
Dietetic TechniciansGuide
Dietitians and NutritionistsGuide
First-Line Supervisors of Personal Service WorkersProfile
Food Service ManagersGuide
Lodging ManagersProfile

Other Sources

  • International Council on Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Education
  • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • Service Employees International Union

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification35-1012
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers35-1012.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ECR
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General 120500
   Restaurant, Culinary, and Catering Management/Manager 120504
   Foodservice Systems Administration/Management 190505
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Dietetic Services and Management130620
   Culinary Arts130630
   Restaurant and Food Services and Management130710