March 6, 2023
Lauren Platero

What Is a Caterer? What Does a Caterer Do?

Working as a caterer is one of the most popular roles within the restaurant industry. Almost every eatery offers catering services on some level or another. After all, event management services can be extremely lucrative. But what does a caterer do exactly? And what kind of candidate holds the qualifications to become one?

In this blog post, we're going to cover everything you need to know about working as a caterer. Now, let's dive right into it.

What Is a Caterer?

A caterer can either be a person or restaurant business that supplies food and other items for events. Within the catering industry, you'll find business owners who cater to all kinds of events. Meanwhile, you'll find others that focus on a niche market, such as weddings or corporate events. 

Caterers often work by selling packages and bundles. For instance, a wedding caterer might include a three course meal, a wedding cake, linens, flatware, dishware, glassware, and decor. However, there are some caterers who just supply the food and drinks.

Caterer Job Description: What Does a Caterer Do?

Any caterer will probably tell you just how busy their shifts are. They may experience work overload from time to time. But what exactly do they do each time they dress in their uniform and go to work? Well, the following duties are usually the norm on a daily basis:

Another thing that’s worth noting about the caterer position is that they often work pretty unconventional hours. Though they might have to coordinate events and dishes during normal business hours, they must be present when such gatherings take place. This means that many caterers will work until late at night and on weekends.

Caterer Salary By State

The annual salary of a caterer can vary from state to state. That’s why it’s so important to check local statistics when entering this career field. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for the Caterer position in each state is as follows:

  • Alabama: $24,903
  • Alaska: $36,063
  • Arizona: $29,467
  • Arkansas: $27,802
  • California: $32,818
  • Colorado: $31,754
  • Connecticut: $29,422
  • Delaware: $31,637
  • Florida: $24,876
  • Georgia: $28,967
  • Hawaii: $37,071
  • Idaho: $28,292
  • Illinois: $33,069
  • Indiana: $29,477
  • Iowa: $29,485
  • Kansas: $31,787
  • Kentucky: $28,395
  • Louisiana: $25,372
  • Maine: $29,980
  • Maryland: $32,082
  • Massachusetts: $37,577
  • Michigan: $30,356
  • Minnesota: $30,430
  • Mississippi: $33,086
  • Missouri: $30,056
  • Montana: $28,271
  • Nebraska: $29,040
  • Nevada: $38,128
  • New Hampshire: $28,910
  • New Jersey: $31,073
  • New Mexico: $28,226
  • New York: $34,646
  • North Carolina: $27,890
  • North Dakota: $35,434
  • Ohio: $28,245
  • Oklahoma: $30,447
  • Oregon: $37,735
  • Pennsylvania: $28,990
  • Rhode Island: $35,641
  • South Carolina: $30,547
  • South Dakota: $35,462
  • Tennessee: $27,644
  • Texas: $29,194
  • Utah: $27,725
  • Vermont: $31,031
  • Virginia: $32,047
  • Washington: $35,341
  • West Virginia: $24,979
  • Wisconsin: $31,188
  • Wyoming: $29,642

Caterer Background and Qualifications 

Unless a restaurant catering business employs entry level roles, which they might be, a caterer usually has some kind of background in the hospitality industry. Maybe they were a banquet server or a restaurant manager. Or, maybe they were an event planner for hotels or country clubs. Just like with any other profession, having at least a tiny amount of experience will go a long way.

When it comes to skills, a caterer usually embodies the following traits:

  • An understanding of the working parts that go into catered events. 
  • The ability to stay organized when presented with numerous tasks. 
  • A knack for restaurant tech, such as catering online ordering systems.
  • Enthusiasm for planning and executing special events. 
  • A thorough knowledge of food safety laws and regulations. 
  • A calm disposition even during stressful dilemmas and in high-stress environments.
  • The ability to think outside the box on how to get more catering orders.

Every caterer has a vital role to play in the overall catering business plan. An efficient and talented caterer has the potential to create a memorable customer experience. And once you maintain a positive sense of customer satisfaction, it’ll only be time until catering sales increase and become more steady. Catering services play a major role in the outcome of special occasions. So, it's vital that the right team is in place to manage such responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Caterer

Caterers are busy professionals who contribute a great deal of effort to the event management sector. With this in mind, there is so much more to learn than just the basics of the job title. So without further ado, continue reading the FAQ section below to discover more about caterers and what their careers are like.

What Is An Independent Caterer?

An independent caterer is a self-employed catering professional that does not work for another company. Many home chefs and bakers are prime examples of independent caterers. This is because it might be more advantageous from a financial standpoint to work for themselves. Or, it could be that they cannot find salaried work. Either way, they’re just as important in the event management scene.

What Is Most Important to a Caterer?

Quality and safety are the most important aspects to a caterer. The health and satisfaction of their customers upon getting orders is crucial for repeat business and a decent reputation. But more importantly, health and safety are elements that must comply with legal protocols. Therefore, they must meet certain standards to stay in business.

How Do I Become a Successful Caterer?

To become a successful caterer, you need to gain experience in the event management and restaurant industries. In doing so, you'll learn how to:

  • Navigate catering-related challenges
  • Provide great customer service
  • Prepare orders in a timely manner
  • Comply with health and safety standards

Is Catering a Profession?

Yes, catering is a profession in the hospitality industry. In fact, it’s one of the most lucrative professions in the space, as there are so many working parts to hosting events. While some catering companies strictly bring the food, others also provide the space, decor, and so on.

How Much Do Caterers Make?

Caterers make an average annual salary of $50,000 in the United States. However, this figure can vary depending on several factors, like experience and location. Plus, the company a caterer works for can also pay much lower or higher than others. It just all depends on their client base and financial standing.

Key Takeaways

Do you have what it takes to be a caterer? What about the ability to operate a successful catering business? Whether you’re looking to expand your career or begin a hiring spree, use this post as a guide. It’ll steer you toward a team that efficiently and successfully runs a catering business.