People who throw large shindigs for special occasions rely on caterers to supply appetizers, sandwiches, meats, casseroles and desserts. Most caterers are either self-employed or work for catering companies. They determine the types of meals clients desire, prepare the foods and serve them at luncheons, holiday and anniversary parties. If you want to be a caterer, consider learning from someone else in the field, or get experience in food preparation. Average annual salaries are average compared to other jobs, but your income will be contingent on the number of clients you service if you own a catering business.
Income and Qualifications
The average annual income for a caterer was $30,000 as of 2013, according to the job website Indeed. There are no formal educational requirements for a caterer, but experience in food preparation and cooking can increase your number of caterering jobs. It also behooves you to take business courses such as management and finance for supervising workers and keeping records of sales and expenses. Interpersonal and customer service skills are also highly desirable traits for caterers. And you must be persistent in acquiring new clients, as it might take several visits to sell them on your catering services.
Average incomes for caterers vary somewhat within certain regions of the United States. They earned between $27,000 and $35,000 per year in the northeast region, according to Indeed -- with lows in Maine and Pennsylvania and highs in Massachusetts and New York. If you worked in the midwest region, you would earn lows of $23,000 in South Dakota and highs of $32,000 in Illinois. Caterers in the western region earned $21,000 to $35,000 per year; Hawaii and California respectively represented the high and low salaries in that region. And those in the southern region of the country earned from $25,000 annually in Louisiana to $35,000 in Mississippi.
Your best opportunity for earning more money as a caterer is to own a catering business. And through experience you can increase your number of clients and increase your income exponentially. To expand your business, consider hiring caterers to service some of the parties. That gives you more time to sell your services to additional clients. If you are employed as a caterer, your geographical area can determine your salary. Caterers usually earn more in states such as New York and California because of higher living costs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, includes caterers under "Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers - Non Restaurant." That said, jobs for food servers and caterers in the non-restaurant sector are expected to increase 18 percent in the next decade, which is slightly above the 14 percent national average for all jobs. An improved economy will spur more job opportunities for you as will your ability to market yourself in a highly competitive industry.
2016 Salary Information for Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
Food and beverage serving and related workers earned a median annual salary of $19,710 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, food and beverage serving and related workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $18,170, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $22,690, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 5,122,500 people were employed in the U.S. as food and beverage serving and related workers.