Career Overview: Food and Beverage Director

Career Overview: Food and Beverage Director

The hospitality industry continues to rebound from the severe economic losses it suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 23% of all projected new jobs from 2021 to 2031 will be in the leisure and hospitality sector. That will make leisure and hospitality the fastest-growing industry during this time.

Food and beverage directors play a key role in the hospitality industry. As executives, they manage food and beverage operations at restaurants, hotels, and event facilities. The fast-paced, dynamic nature of the hospitality industry demands that these professionals possess strong leadership, operational, and communication skills. Earning an advanced business degree can prepare hospitality professionals for senior-level roles in the food and beverage industry.

Food and Beverage Director Job Description

A food and beverage director is a senior manager in charge of food and beverage operations at a facility. Directors streamline operations and ensure the quality of the facility’s dining service.

Food and beverage directors are responsible for fiscal and operational tasks such as ordering supplies, developing and operating within a budget, and managing inventory. They also train and oversee staff, create and implement operational procedures, and cultivate relationships with food and beverage vendors.

Working in hospitality at the executive level requires the ability to stay on top of industry trends along with strong management skills. Strategic decision-making capabilities help directors analyze operations and identify needed changes to improve quality and minimize expenses.

Because the hospitality industry places a premium on customer service, food and beverage directors also need strong interpersonal skills to respond to customer needs and address their concerns.

Work Settings for Food and Beverage Directors

A food and beverage director’s day-to-day varies depending on where they work. Most work in restaurants or in hotels ranging in size from sprawling resorts to small boutique hotels.

They may also work in banquet and event facilities. For example, many specialty venues that host weddings or offer catering services employ food and beverage directors to oversee operations. Food and beverage executives even work on cruise ships.

Depending on where they work and the exact nature of their role, food and beverage directors may oversee bar service and kitchen operations. While many directors work normal business hours, some roles require night and weekend hours.

Food and Beverage Director Salary and Job Outlook

Reflecting the overall robust growth in the hospitality industry, the employment outlook for food and beverage directors is promising.

Management roles in the restaurant industry are projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS. In the lodging industry, managerial employment is projected to grow 18% during that same period. While the BLS doesn’t track employment data specifically for food and beverage directors, the growth of other leadership roles in leisure and hospitality—and the overall growth in that sector—is an indication of the potential demand for these executives.

As members of senior management, food and beverage directors are typically well compensated. The median food and beverage director salary was $73,800 in March 2023, according to Payscale. Total compensation ranged from around $48,000 to $118,000. While these figures serve as a baseline, individual salaries vary based on a person’s location, experience, and work setting, among other factors.

Before becoming a director, many food and beverage professionals hold manager roles. Food service managers had a median salary of $59,440 in 2021, while lodging managers had a median salary of $59,430, according to BLS data.

A food and beverage director sits at a table in a dining room, tasting food and working on a tablet. How to Become a Food and Beverage Director

In most organizations, becoming a food and beverage director requires significant experience. Many directors enter the role with multiple years of experience in food service and management.

Hospitality professionals can prepare for senior management roles with a mix of education and work experience. Many directors hold college degrees, and some companies may prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree.

Although hospitality professionals can take many different paths to director-level roles in food and beverage service, aspiring directors can better position themselves by following some key steps, including the following:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree. Careers in food and beverage management generally require at least a bachelor’s degree. Prospective directors benefit from majoring in hospitality management or a related field.
  • Gain food and beverage experience. To be able to lead food and beverage teams, directors must have prior experience in the industry. This can include customer-facing roles in restaurants, hotels, or other food and beverage service settings.
  • Gain management experience. Moving into senior management roles requires supervisory experience. For example, working as a food service manager strengthens an individual’s team leadership and operational capabilities.
  • Earn an MBA in Hospitality. An MBA offers extensive management training for senior-level roles in hospitality. Prospective food and beverage directors benefit from courses in hospitality operations, services management, and tourism strategy and planning.

In addition, food and beverage professionals should focus on building their leadership, communication, and customer service skills. The ability to solve problems, delegate tasks, and forecast industry trends can help individuals qualify for director roles.

Become a Leader in Hospitality With an MBA

As the hospitality industry continues to experience strong growth, hospitality managers are needed to help keep their facilities running smoothly. Food and beverage directors ensure a high-quality experience for guests and oversee complex operations. If you’re interested in executive-level roles in hospitality, earning an Online Master of Business Administration from Washington State University can help you reach your goals. Enrolling in the program’s concentration in hospitality and tourism can help you strengthen your industry-specific knowledge and the skills you’ll need for a successful career as a food and beverage director.

Recommended Readings

5 Keys to Service-Based Business Management

All About Hospitality Business Management

Female Leadership in Hospitality


Betterteam, Food and Beverage Manager Job Description

National Restaurant Association, Restaurant Industry Job Titles

Payscale, Average Food and Beverage Director Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Food Service Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Leisure and Hospitality Projected to Mostly Recover Pandemic-Driven Employment Losses”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lodging Managers

Workable, Food and Beverage Manager Job Description