Restaurant jobs can open up many opportunities outside of the restaurant industry because they help you build a wide range of in-demand skills like communication and customer service. If you’re interested in leaving the restaurant industry, understanding how the skills apply in various fields and what careers are available can help you make a career change. In this article, we discuss 15 careers you can pursue after working in the food service industry.
How to get out of the restaurant industry
Here are some steps to move from a restaurant job to a different career:
1. Identify transferrable skills
Most restaurant employees are comfortable in high-pressure and fast-paced work environments and have developed strong collaboration and communication skills. Here are some other skills that you may have developed in a specific position:
Server: Time management, customer service and adaptability
Line cook: Attention to detail and safe operation of industrial equipment
Manager: Scheduling, logistics and menu preparation
Hostess: Point of sales system, reservation system, organization and hospitality
Bartender: Customer service and multitasking
2. Identify career goals
Next, think about jobs and industries where you would like to work in the future. Research what skills and education those jobs take, then see which areas you’re well-prepared in and areas where you can develop. For instance, you might take courses in accounting or instructional design to transfer managerial skills to another industry or work an entry-level writing job to develop your writing skills for a food critic career.
3. Match your skills and goals to job listings
Look for job listings that mention your specific skills that can help you pursue your broader career goals. As you write your resume, consider reviewing lists of hard and soft skills to make sure you’re using the right career terms to emphasize the professional skills you’ve gained.
Jobs using transferrable restaurant skills
Here are 15 jobs that use restaurant industry skills:
1. Flight attendant
Primary duties: A flight attendant manages passenger safety and comfort during a flight. They welcome passengers onto the plane, help them find seating, provide safety briefings, serve refreshments during the flight and are on call if passengers need help. The work involves managing many customers at once, working closely with the crew and resolving conflicts, so customer service and teamwork skills from restaurant work can be an advantage.
Primary duties: A bookkeeper is a financial professional who manages an organization’s finances. They track expenses and income, organizing receipts and auditing records to make sure they are accurate. They can also make financial reports and take care of payroll. Managing a restaurant or bar involves similar accounting experience, which can easily translate to a small business, retail outlet or an accounting setting.
3. Social media coordinator
Primary duties: A social media coordinator works to keep a business’s online brand consistent and engaging. They determine the company’s target market, strategize what methods and social media sites are appropriate and then develop and execute a social media plan. Experience as official or unofficial social media ambassadors for the workplace can help former restaurant employees bring a natural and informal tone to content in a social media coordinator position.
4. Emergency dispatcher
Primary duties: A dispatcher answers emergency calls, provides immediate health and safety instruction and alerts the relevant emergency responders. They might work at a regional center or a specific fire or police station. The ability to manage high-stress situations and respond calmly is crucial for this job.
5. Event planner
Primary duties: An event planner is a hospitality industry professional who plans and coordinates special events. Event planners learn what a client needs, and finds locations, vendors, decoration and catering for them. During an event, the planner makes guests feel welcome and solves any problems that come up. They remain calm and adaptable under pressure and maintain a pleasant experience for customers and guests.
6. Customer service representative
Primary duties: A customer service representative supports customers by understanding what they need and answering their questions or solving their problems. They can work in almost every business and industry, from retail settings to call centers. The restaurant industry can provide extensive experience with providing customer satisfaction that transfers to other industries.
7. Food writer
Primary duties: A food and nutrition writer can create content about any aspect of the food industry, from ingredient production to nutritional guidance to restaurant reviews. As a freelancer, a writer can select their own topics and pitch articles to publications. Some food or nutrition writers work in-house for organizations and have more consistent hours and responsibilities.
Primary duties: A nutritionist uses their knowledge of food and menu planning to help others build balanced diets. They might help individuals to create a plan for specific health needs or teach group courses on meal planning and cooking at community centers or medical centers.
9. Food inspector
Primary duties: A food inspector ensures the quality of food products like meat or processed food. Food inspectors can work for a federal agency, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture or Food and Drug Administration, traveling to inspect different plants and farms. They can also work for a specific food production plant, maintaining quality on the production line.
10. Human resources generalist
Primary duties: A human resources generalist manages various tasks within the human resources department, including payroll, preparing tax reports and hiring and handling employees. A restaurant manager or supervisor with relevant staff management experiences might translate their skills to a human resources position.
11. Facilities manager
Primary duties: A facilities manager maintains equipment and buildings, fixes and cleans facilities and contacts technicians in emergencies. They are comfortable with the demands of a high-pressure and constant use environment and make sure equipment is always available to suit users’ needs. Managing a restaurant often provides the understanding of facility operation necessary for this role.
12. Sales representative
Primary duties: A sales representative sells goods or services using strong customer service and communication skills. They listen to customers to understand what they want, then help them find the best product and complete the sale through a point of sale system. A server or bartender may have relevant sales experience from describing menu items to customers and upselling more expensive items or specials.
13. Training instructor
Primary duties: A training instructor develops and delivers informational programs to keep a company’s employees updated about regulations, company policies and developments. Training others to maintain safety standards and learn restaurant routines can provide valuable experience for working as a training instructor, especially in the food production industry or a culinary institute setting.
Primary duties: A distributor transports products from manufacturers to customers and is often the owner of their own small distribution business. They primarily work in the business-to-business sector, selling products to retailers, institutions and contractors. Experience negotiating with restaurant distributors and using the products they sell can be helpful in the distributor role to answer product questions from experience.
15. Private or company chef
Primary duties: A private chef works to meet small-scale food production needs, whether that’s cooking for a family’s personal dietary needs or working at a company to test equipment or ingredients. This involves everything from menu planning to shopping, preparation and cleanup. It can be a more creative cooking career, offering significant control over recipes and menus.